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7134- Society Must Be Defended - Foucault

7134- Society Must Be Defended - Foucault

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"Society Must Be Defended"


Edited by Mauro Bertani and Alessandro Fontana General Editors: Francois Ewald and Alessandro Fontana

English Series Editor: Arnold I. Davidson



"SOCIETY MUST BE DEFENDED". Copyright © 1997 by Editions de Seuil /Callimard. Edition established, under the direction of Francois Ewald and Alessandro Fontana, by Mauro Bertani. Translation copyright IQ 2003 by David Macey. Introduction copyright © 2003 by Arnold I. Davidson. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address Picador, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

Picador' is a Ll.S. registered trademark and is used by St. Martin's Press under license from Pan Books Limited.


ISBN 0-312·20318-7

First Edition: January 2003

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2


Foreword: Er-a n co i s Ewald and Alessandro Fontana IX

Introduction: Arnold I. Davidson xv

one 7 JANUARY 1976

What is a lecture? - SubJugated knowledges. - Historical knowledge ~f struggles, genealogies, and scient[fic discourse. - Power, or what is at stake in genealogies. - Juridical and economic conceptions ~ power. - Power as repression and power as war. - Clauseuntz'» aphorism inverted.


14 JANUARY 1976

War and power. - PhIlosophy and the limits ~f power. - Law and royal power. - Law, domination, and subjugation, - Analytics ~ power: questions ~ method. - Theory ~f sovereignty. - Disciplinary power. - Rule and norm.

three 21 JANUARY 1976

Theory ~f sovereignty and operators ~f domination. - War as ana~y:{~r ~f power relations. - The binary structure ~f

society. - Historico-politicai discourse, the discourse ~ perpetual war. - The dialectic and its codificahons. - The discourse ~f race s trugsfe and its trans en phons.








28 JANUARY 1976

Historical discourse and its supporten. - The counterhistory 0/ race struggle. - Roman history and biblical history. - Revolutionary discourse. - Birth and transformations 0/ racism. - Race punty and State racism: the Nantransformation and the Soviet transformation.


Answer to a question on anti-Semi/ism. - Hobbes on war and sovereignty. - The discourse on the Conquest in England: royalists, parliamentarians, and Levellers. - The binary schema and political historicism. - What Hobbes wanted to eliminate.

11 FEBRUARY 1976

Stones about origins. - The Trojan myth. - France's heredity, - "Franco-Gallia." - Invasion, history, and public ngfu, - National dualism. - The knowledge 0/ the

prince. - Boulainoilliers's "Etat de la France." - The clerk. the intendant, and the knowledge ~f the aristocracy, - A new subject 0/ hIstory. - HIstory and constitution.

seven 18 FEBRUARY 1976

Nation and nations. - The Roman conquest. - Grandeur and decadence 0/ the Romans. - Boulainvilliers on the freedom ~f the Cermans. - The Soissons vase. - Origins 0/ feudalism. - Church, ngfu, and the language 0/ State. - Boulainoilliers: three generalizations about war: law ~f hIstory and law ~f nature, the institutions 0/ war, the calculation ~f fon:es. - Remarks on war.

~ght 25 FEBRUARY 1976

Boulainvilliers and the constitution ~f a historico-political continuum. - Historicism. - Tragedy and publtc ni;ht. - The central administration ~f history, - The problematic 0/ the Enlightenment and the genealogy ~f knowledges. - The four operations 0/ disciplinary knowledge and their effects. - Philosoph} and

science. - Disciplining knowledges.







n i ne 3 MARCH 1976

Tactical generalization of historical knowledge. - Constitution, Revolution, and cyclical history. - The savagf and the

barbarian. - Three ways of filtering barbarism: tactics of historical discourse. - Queshons ~f method: the epistemological field and the antihistoncism ~f the bourgeoisie. - Reactioation of historical discourse during the Reoolution. - Feudalism and the gothIc novel.


10 MARCH 1976

The polih'cal reworking ~f the idea of the nation during the Revolution: Sieyis. - Theoretical implications and eJfects on historical discourse. - The new history's grids ~f intelligibility: domination and totalization. - Mont/osier and AuguShn Thierry. - Birth of the dialectic.

eleven 17 MARCH 1976

From the power ~f sovereignty to power over life, - Make live and let die. - From man as body to man as species: the birth of biopouier. - Biopouier's fields of application. - Population. - Qf death, and of the death of Franco in particular. - ArtiCulahons ~f discipline and regulahon: workers' housing, sexuality, and the norm, - Biopoioer and racism, - Racism: [unctions and

domains, - Nazism. - Socialism.

Course Summary

Situating the Lectures: Alessandro Fontana and Mauro Bertani










THIS VOLUME IS THE first in a series devoted to the lectures given at the College de France by Michel Foucault.

Michel Foucault taught at the College de France from January 1971 until his death inJune 198ft-with the exception of1977, when he enjoyed a sabbatical year. His chair was in the History of Systems of Thought.

The chair was established on 30 November 1969 at the proposal of Jules Vuillemin and in the course of a general meeting of the professors of the College de France. It replaced the chair in the History of Philosophical Thought, which was held until his death by Jean Hyppolite. On 12 April 1970, the general meeting elected Michel Foucault to the chair.' He was forty-three.

Michel Foucault gave his inaugural lecture on 2 December 1970.2

Professors teaching at the College de France work under specific rules. They are under an obligation to teach for twenty-six hours a year (up

1 The candidacy presentation drawn up by Michel Foucault ends with the formula «[IJt would be necessary to undertake the history of systems of thought." "Titres et tr avaux," in Dits et eents, ed. Daniel Detert and Francois Ewald (Paris: Gallimard), vol. 1, p. 846; trans., "Candidacy Presentation: College de France," in Ethic»: Subjectivity and Truth, ed. Paul Rabinow, The Essential Work, of Michel Foucault, 1954-1984 (London: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1994), vol. 1, p.9.

2 It was published bv Editions Gallimard in March 1971 under the title L'Ordre du discours . The English translation by Rupert Swver, "Orders of Discourse," is appended to the u.s. edition of The Arrhaeology of Knowledge; it does not appear in U.K. editions.



to half the hours can take the form of seminars)'> Each year, they are required to give an account of the original research that they have undertaken, which means that the content of their lectures must always be new. Anyone is free to attend the lectures and seminars; there LS no enrollment, and no diplomas are required. The professors do not award any diplomas." In the vocabulary of the College de France, its professors do not have students, but auditeurs or listeners.

Michel Foucault gave his lectures on Wednesdays from the beginning ofJanuary to the end of March. The very large audience, made up of students, teachers, researchers, and those who attended simply out of curiosity, many of them from abroad, filled two of the College de France's lecture theaters. Michel Foucault often complained about the distance this could put between him and his "audience" and about the way the lecture format left so little room for dialogue," He dreamed of holding a seminar in which truly collective work could be done. He made various attempts to hold such a seminar. In his last years, he devoted long periods after his lectures to answering questions from his listeners.

This is how Gerard Petitjean, a journalist on Le Nouvel Obseroateur, captured the atmosphere:

When Foucault quickly enters the arena with all the resolution of someone diving into the water, he scrambles over bodies to get to his dais, pushes the microphones aside to put his papers down, takes off his jacket, switches on a lamp and takes off at a hundred kilometers an hour. His loud, effective voice is relayed by loudspeakers, which are the sole concession to modernity in a room that is only dimly lit by the light that comes from the stucco lamp-holders. There are three hundred seats, and five

3 Michel Foucault did so until the earlv 1980s. 4 I n the context of the College de France.

" In 1976, Michel Foucault changed the time of his lecture from 5:45 P.M. to 9:00 A.M. in a vain attempt to reduce the numbers present. Cf. the beginning of the first lecture (7 Januarv 1976) in the present volume.



hundred people are crammed into them, taking up all the available space ... No oratorical effects. It is lucid and extremely effective. Not the slightest concession to improvisation. Foucault has twelve hours to explain, in a series of public lectures, the meaning of the research he has carried out over the year that has just ended. So he crams in as much as possible, and fills in the margins like a letter writer who has too much to say when he has reached the bottom of the sheet. 19.15. Foucault stops. The students rush to his desk. Not to talk to him, but to switch off their tape recorders. No questions. Foucault is alone in the crush. Foucault comments: "We ought to be able to discuss what I have put forward. Sometimes, when the lecture has not been good, it would not take a lot, a question, to put everything right. But the question never comes. In France, the group effect makes all real discussion impossible. And as there is no feedback channel, the lecture becomes a sort of theatrical performance. I relate to the people who are there as though I were an actor or an acrobat. And when I have finished speaking, there's this feeling of total solitude."?

Michel Foucault approached his teaching as a researcher. He explored possibilities for books in preparation, outlined fields of problernatization, as though he were handing out invitations to potential researchers. That is why the lectures given at the College de France do not reduplicate the published books. They are not outlines for books, even though the books and the lectures do sometimes have themes in common. They have a status of their own. They belong to a specific discursive regime within the sum total of the "philosophical acts" performed by Michel Foucault. Here he quite specifically outlines the program for a genealogy of the relations between power and knowledge. From the early 1970s onward, it is this, and not the ar-

6 Gerard Petitjean. "Les Grands Pretres de I'universite Irancaise," Le Nouvel Obsemateur, 7 April 1975.



chaeology of discursive formations that had previously been his dominant concern, that provides the framework for his discussion of his own work.'

The lectures also had a contemporary function. The auditeurs who followed them were not simply captivated by the narrative that was being constructed week after week; they were not simply seduced by the rigor of the exposition; they found that they were also listening to a commentary on current events. Michel Foucault knew the secret of how to use history to cut through current events. He might well have been speaking of Nietzsche or Aristotle, of psychiatric appraisal in the nineteenth century or of Christian pastoralism, but his audience was also learning about the present day and contemporary events. It is this subtle interplay among erudite scholarship, personal commitment, and work on current events that gives Michel Foucault's lectures their great power.


The 1970s saw the development and the refinement of cassette tape recorders. Michel Foucault's lecture theater was quickly invaded by them. It is thanks to them that the lectures (and some of the seminars) have been preserved.

This edition is based upon the words pronounced in public by Michel Foucault. It gives the most literal transcription possible." We would have liked to publish his words exactly as they were spoken. But the transition from the oral to the written does require some editorial intervention. At least some punctation has to be introduced, and paragraph breaks have to be added. The principle has always

7 Cf. in particular "Nietzsche, la genealogie, l'histoire," in Din et «rit», vol. 2, P: 137. English translation bv Donald F. Brouchard and Sherry Simon, "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History," in James Faubi;n, ed., Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology: Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984, Volume II (London: Allen Lane, 1998), pp.369-92.

8 Particular use has been made of the recordings made by Gilbert Burlet and Jacques lagrange. These have been deposited at the College de France and in the Fonds Michel Foucault held by Institut Mernoires de l'Edition Contemporaine.



been to remam as close as possible to the lecture that was actually gIVen.

When It seemed absolutely essential, repetItIOns have been cut; sentences that break off have been completed, and incorrect constructions have been rectified.

Ellipses indicate that the tape recording is inaudible. In the case of obscure phrases, brackets indicate a conjectural interpolation or addition.

Asterisks indicate significant variations between the notes used by Michel Foucault and what he actually said.

Quotations have been checked, and references to the texts used have been supplied. The critical apparatus is restricted to the elucidation of obscure points, the explanation of certain allusions, and the clarification of critical points.

For the reader's benefit, each lecture is preceded by a brief summary indicating its main articulations.

The text of the lectures is followed by the course summary published in the Annuaire du College de France. Michel Foucault usually wrote his course summaries in the month of June, or in other words some time after the end of his lecture course. He saw them as an opportunity to use the benefit of hindsight to clarify his own intentions and objectives. They are the best introduction to the lectures.

Each volume ends with a "situation" written by the editor: this is designed to provide the reader with contextual, biographical, ideological, and political information that situates the lectures in relation to Michel Foucault's published works. It situates the lectures in relation to the corpus used by Michel Foucault so as to facilitate an understanding of it, to avoid misunderstandings, and to preserve the memory of the circumstances in which each lecture was prepared and delivered.




This edition of the lectures given at the College de France marks a new stage in the publication of the "works" of Michel Foucault.

These are not unpublished texts in the strict sense of the word, as this edition reproduces words that were spoken in public by Michel Foucault, but not the written-and often very sophisticated-support he used. Daniel Detert, who owns Michel Foucault's notes, has allowed the editors to consult them. They are extremely grateful to him.

This edition of the lectures given at the College de France has been authorized by Michel Foucault's heirs, who wished to meet the great demand for their publication both in France and abroad. They wished this to be a serious undertaking. The editors have attempted to prove themselves worthy of the trust that has been placed in them.



Arnold I. Davidson

THIS VOLUME INAUGURATES THE English-language publication of Michel Foucault's extraordinary courses at the College de France.

Claude Levi-Strauss recounts that after he was elected to the College de France, an usher, who had grown old in his job, took him from room to room so that he could choose the room in which he would give his yearly course. After Levi-Strauss had chosen a room the usher bluntly warned him: "Not that one!" to which Levi-Strauss expressed surprise:

"Y ou see," [the usher] explained, "it is laid out in such a way that in order to reach the rostrum you have to make your way through the entire audience, and, you have to do likewise while leaving." "Does it really matter?" I said. Whereupon he shot back this response with a peremptory look: "Someone could speak to you." I stood by my choice, but, in the tradition of the College, it is indeed a matter of the professor dispensing his words, and not receiving them or even exchanging them. 1

And Levi-Strauss goes on to talk about the "mental concentration and nervous tension" involved in giving a course at the College de France.'

In a 1975 interview Foucault himself noted the strange particularity of "teaching" at the College de France. remarking that he liked not having "the impression of teaching, that is, of exercising a relationship of power with respect to an audience."? The traditional teacher first makes his audience feel guilty for not knowing a certain number of


Introduction: Arnold 1. Davidson

things they should know; then he places the audience under the obligation to learn the things that he, the professor, knows; and, finally, when he has taught these things, he will verify that the audience has indeed learned them. Culpabilization, obligation, and verification are the series of power relations exercised by the typical professor." But, as Foucault points out, at the College de France, courses are open to anyone who wishes to attend: "If it interests him, he comes; if it doesn't interest him, he doesn't come."? At the College a professor is paid to present his work, and "it is up to the audience to say or to show whether or not it is interested":

In any case when I am going to give my courses at the College, I have stage fright (trae), absolutely, like when I took exams, because I have the feeling that, really, people, the public, corne to verify my work, to show that they are interested or not; if they don't have an interested look, I am very sad, you know."

Nowhere were culpabilization, obligation, and verification less present than in Foucault's lectures at the College de France, and the interested public often gave way to an excited, enthusiastic public that made the very idea of presenting lectures a difficult task. Rather than an atmosphere of sadness, Foucault's courses produced a kind of frenzy, a frenzy of knowledge. that was intellectually and socially electrifying.

In an exceptional essay on Foucault, Gilles Deleuze has distinguished two dimensions of Foucault's writings: on the one hand, the lines of history, the archive, Foucault's analytic; on the other, the lines of the present, of what is happening now, Foucault's diagnostic: "In every apparatus, we have to disentangle the lines of the recent past and those of the future at hand."? According to Deleuze, the majority of Foucault's books establish "a precise archive with exceedingly new historical means," while in his interviews and conversations, Foucault explicitly confronts the other half of his task, tracing lines of actualization that "pull us toward a future, toward a becoming.:" Analytical strata and diagnostic contemporaneity are two essential poles of Foucault's entire work. Perhaps nowhere more clearly than in Fou-

Introduction: Arnold 1. Do oid s o n


cault's lectures at the College de France do we see the balancing, the alternation, and the overlapping of these two poles. At one and the same time, these lectures exhibit Foucault's relentless erudition and his explosive force, giving further shape to that distinctive history of the present that so changed our twentieth-century landscape.



One of the most emblematic, and often cited, lines of the first volume of Foucault's history of sexuality, La Volante de saooir, published in 1976, the year of this course, is the trenchant remark "In thought and political analysis we have still not cut off the head of the king."? In studying the historico-political discourse of war in this course, Foucault shows us one way to detach ourselves from the philosophicojuridical discourse of sovereignty and the law that has so dominated our thought and political analysis. In an important lecture given in Brazil in 1976, and unfortunately still not translated into English, Foucault underscores his claim that "the West has never had another system of representation, of formulation, and of analysis of power than that of the law, the system of the law."!" Many of Foucault's writings, lectures, and interviews of the mid- to late 1970s are responses to this conceptual impasse, are attempts to articulate alternative ways of analyzing power.

Foucault's concern during this period was both with the representation of power and with the actual functioning of power. The focus of this 1976 course is on one alternative conceptualization of power, a mode of thought that analyzes power relations in terms of the model of war, that looks for the principle of intelligibility of politics in the general form of war. Foucault himself, discussing the use of the notion of "struggle" in certain political discourses, posed the following question:

[S ]hould one, or should one not, analyze these "struggles" as the vicissitudes of a war, should one decipher them according to a grid which would be one of strategy and tactics? Is the


Introduction: Arnold 1. Davidson

relation of forces in the order of politics a relation of war? Personally, I do not feel myself ready for the moment to respond in a definitive way with a yes or no."

"Society Must Be Defended" is Foucault's most concentrated and detailed historical examination of the model of war as a grid for analyzing politics.

If this course is an answer to the question of who first thought of politics as war continued by other means, we must put it in the context of the development of Foucault's own thought with respect to this substantive claim. If in 1975, just before the lectures published here, Foucault seemed himself to take up the claim that politics is the continuation of war by other means," by 1976, just after this course, Foucault had subtly but significantly modified his own attitude:

Should one then turn around the formula and say that politics is war pursued by other means? Perhaps if one wishes always to maintain a difference between war and politics, one should suggest rather that this multiplicity of force-relations can be coded-in part and never totally-either in the form of "war" or in the form of "politics"; there would be here two different strategies (but ready to tip over into one another) for integrating these unbalanced, heterogeneous, unstable, tense forcerelations."

As this quotation makes clear, Foucault's preoccupation with the schema of war was central to his formulation of the strategic model of power, of force-relations, a strategic model that would allow us to reorient our conception of power.

Although it is widely recognized that the articulation of this strategic model-with its notions of force, struggle, war, tactics, strategy, et cetera-is one of the major achievements of Foucault's thought during this time, the full scope and significance of this model has not been fully appreciated. Although a full study of the emergence of this

Introduction: Arnold 1. Davidson


strategIc model in Foucault's work would have to begin with texts written no later than 1971,'4 his course summary published here leaves no doubt that the examination of the historico-political discourse of war was an essential stage in the formulation of a model of analysis that is presented at greatest length in part 4 of La Volante de saooir. Rather than trace the changing forms of this model, I want at least to outline a few aspects of it that deserve further attention in the study of Foucault's writings during this period.

In La Volante de saooir, Foucault's strategic model takes as its most central field of application power relations (and resistances), that is to say, non discursive practices or the social field generally. It provides a model of strategic coherence, intelligibility, rationality that answers to what Foucault sometimes called the logic of strategies." Arrangements of relations of forces have a strategic intelligibility, and their rationality, as well as the transformation of these arrangements into other coherent arrangements, obeys a logic distinct both from the logic of epistemic coherence and transformations studied by Foucault in his archaeological works, and from the logic of the model of sovereignty and the law that is the direct object of Foucault's criticisms here.

Although this strategic model is, first of all, intended to provide an alternative system of representation of the nondiscursive social field, a mode of representation that does not derive from the juridical conception of power, in order to assess its significance we must not forget that as early as 1967 Foucault recognized that the form of strategic intelligibility could also be applied to discursive practices. In an unpublished lecture, "Structuralisme et analyse litteraire," given in Tunisia in 1967, Foucault, invoking among others the name ofJ. L Austin, argued that the description of a statement was not complete when one had defined the linguistic structure of the statement, that the analysis of discourse could not be reduced to the combination of elements according to linguistic rules, that therefore "discourse is something that necessarily extends beyond language;"? As he put it in a 1967 letter to Daniel Detert, again appealing to "les analystes anglaises," "they allow me indeed to see how one can do nonlinguistic


Introduction: Arnold 1. Davidson

analyses of statements. Treat statements in their Iunctioning.?" nonlinguistic level of the analysis of discourse is in fact the level of strategic intelligibility.

This model of analysis is developed further in Foucault's 1974 lectures at the Catholic Pontifical University of Rio de Janeiro, "La Verite et les formes juridiques," where Foucault urges us to consider the facts of discourse as strategic games.'1l

single-page text, "Le Discours ne doit pas etre pris comme ... ," a text that appears in Dits et ecrits just before the course summary of "Society Must Be Defended," Foucault describes this level of analysis as the political analysis of discourse in which "it is a matter of exhibiting discourse as a strategic field.?'? Here discourse is characterized as a battle, a struggle, a place and an instrument of confrontation, "a weapon of power, of control, of subjection, of qualification and of disqualification.v'v Discourse does not simply express or reproduce already constituted social relations:

Discourse battle and not discourse reflection ... Discourse-the mere fact of speaking, of employing words, of using the words of others (even if it means returning them), words that the others understand and accept (and, possibly, return from their side )-this fact is in itself a force. Discourse is, with respect to the relation of forces, not merely a surface of inscription, but something that brings about effects.21

The strategic model of intelligibility, with a vocabulary one of whose primary sources is the schema of war, applies to the forces of discourse as well as to nondiscursive force-relations." In La Volonte de saooir, this form of analysis of discourse is employed in part 4, chapter 2, when Foucault discusses the "rule of the tactical polyvalence of discourse," insisting that discourses should be examined at the two levels of their tactical productivity and of their strategic integration." Indeed, speaking of the perspectival character of knowledge in a discussion of Nietzsche, Foucault recurs to this same terminology in




Introduction: Arnold 1. Davidson


order to articulate the Nietzschean claim that "knowledge is always a certain strategic relation in which man finds himself placed":

The perspectival character of knowledge does not derive from human nature, but always from the polemical and strategic character of knowledge. One can speak of the perspectival character of knowledge because there is a battle and knowledge is the effect of this battle."

And in his course and his summary of "Society Must Be Defended" Foucault describes the histori co-political discourse of war as putting forward a truth that "functions as a weapon," as speaking of a "perspectival and strategic truth." Discourse, knowledge, and truth, as well as relations of power, can be understood from within the strategic model. Hence the importance of seeing how this model functions at all of its levels of application.

Finally, I want to indicate that this course can be read within the framework of what Foucault called his "circular" project, a project that involves two endeavors that refer back to each other." On the one hand, Foucault wanted to rid us of a juridical representation of power, conceived of in terms of law, prohibition, and sovereignty, a clearing away that raises the question of how we are to analyze what has taken place in history without the use of this system of representation. On the other hand, Foucault wanted to carry out a more meticulous historical examination in order to show that in modern societies power has not in fact functioned in the form of law and sovereignty, a historical analysis that forces one to find another form of representation that does not depend on the juridical system.

Therefore, one must, at one and the same time, while giving oneself another theory of power, form another grid of historical decipherment, and, while looking more closely at an entire historical material, advance little by little toward another conception of power. 26


Introduction: Arnold I. Davidson


"Society Must Be Difended" participates fully in this historicotheoretical project; it reminds us once again of Foucault's unrivaled conjunction of philosophical and historical analysis. And these lectures, as in the courses to follow, show us the unfolding of Foucault's thought in all of its vivacity, intensity, clarity, and precision.


I am deeply indebted to Daniel Defert for his help and encouragement, to Michael Denneny and Christina Prestia, who initiated this project at St. Martin's Press, and to Tim Bent and Julia Pastore, who have followed it through.


Introduction: Arnold 1. Davidson


1. Claude Levi-Strauss, Paroles donnees (Paris: PIon, 1984), p.9.

2. Ibid., p. 10.

3. Michel Foucault, "Radioscopic de Michel Foucault," in Dits el ecnts (Paris: Gallimard,

1994), vol. 2, p. 786.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Gilles Deleuze, "Qu' est-ce qu'un dis posit if?" in Michel Foucault, philosophe (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1989), P: 191.

8. Ibid, pp. 192-93.

9. Michel Foucault, Histoire de la sexualite, vol. 1, La Volonli de saooir (Paris: Gallimard, 1976),


10. Michel Foucault, "Les Mailles du pouvoir," in Dits et ecrits, vol. 4, P: 186.

11. Michel Foucault, "L'Oeil du pouvoir," in Dirs et ecrus, vol. 3, p.206.

12. Michel Foucault, "La Politique est la continuation de la guerre par d'autres movens," in Dits et ecrits, vol. 2, P: 704.

13. Michel Foucault, La Volonli de saooir, P: 123.

14, See, for example, Michel Foucault, "Nietzsche, la genealogie, l'histoire," in Dits el ecnts, vol. 2. A complete study of this issue must await the publication of Foucault's 1971 course at the College de France, also entitled "La Volonte de savoir." The course summary can be found in Dits el ecnts, vol. 2. See also Daniel Deferr, "Le 'dis posit if de guerre' comme analvseur des rapports de pouvoir," in Lectures de Mich~1 Foucault: A propos de "l] faut de'fend", la societe," ed. Jean-Claude Zancarini (Lyon: ENS Editions, n.d.).

15. See, among other texts, Michel Foucault, "Des Supplices aux cellules," in DdJ el ecrus, vol. 3, pp. 426-27.

16. A tape recording of this lecture can be found in the Centre Michel Foucault.

17. Cited in the "Chronologie." Dits el ecnts, vol. 1, P: 31. For funher discussion see my essay, "Structures and Strategies of Discourse: Remarks Towards a History of Foucault's Philosophy of Language," in Foucault and His lnterlocutors, ed. Arnold I. Davidson (C hicago:

University of Chicago Press, 1997).

18. Michel Foucault, "La Verite et les formes juridiques," in Dits et ecnts, vol. 2, P: 539.

19. Michel Foucault, .. Le Discours ne doit pas etre pris comme ... ," in Dits et ecnts, vol. 3,


20. Ibid.

21. Ibid., p.124.

22. See also Michel Foucault, "Dialogue sur le pouvoir," in Dits et ecnts, vel. 3, p.465.

23. Michel Foucault, La Yolonte de saooir, pp. 132-35.

24. Michel Foucault, "La Verite et les formes juridiques," in Dl/S el ecnts, vol. 2, p.551.

25. Michel Foucault, La Volonff de saooir, pp.119-20.

26. Ibid., p. 120.

"Society Must Be Defended"


7 JANUARY 1976



What is a lecture? - SubJugated knowledges. - Historical knowledge f!,{ struggles, genealogies, and scientific discourse. - Power, or what is at stake in genealogies. - Junilical and economic conceptions cfpoioer. - Power as repression and power as war. - Clauseioitz's aphorism inverted.

I WOULD LIKE US to be a bit clearer about what is going on here, in these lectures. You know that the institution where you are, and where I am, is not exactly a teaching institution. Well, whatever meaning it was intended to have when it was founded long ago, the College de France now functions essentially as a sort of research institute: we are paid to do research. And I believe that, ultimately, the activity of teaching would be meaningless unless we gave it, or at least lent it, this meaning, or at least the meaning I suggest: Given that we are paid to do research, what is there to monitor the research we are doing? How can we keep informed people who might be interested in it, or who might have some reason for taking this research as a starting point? How can we keep them informed on a fairly regular basis about the work we are doing, except by teaching, or in other words by making a public statement? So I do not regard our Wednesday meetings as a teaching activity, but rather as public reports on the work I am, in other respects, left to get on with more or less as I see fit. To that extent, I actually consider myself to be under an absolute obligation to tell you roughly what I am doing, what point


I've reached, in what direction [ ... ] the work is going; and to that extent, I think that you are completely free to do what you like with what I am saying. These are suggestions for research, ideas, schemata, outlines, instruments; do what you like with them. Ultimately, what you do with them both concerns me and is none of my business. It is none of my business to the extent that it is not up to me to lay down the law about the use you make of it. And it does concern me to the extent that, one way or another, what you do with it is connected, related to what I am doing.

Having said that, you know what has happened over the last few years. As a result of a sort of inflation that is hard to understand, we've reached the point where, I think, something has just about come to a standstill. You've been having to get here at half past four [ ... ] and I've been finding myself faced with an audience made up of people with whom I had strictly no contact because part of the audience, if not half of it, had to go into another room and listen to what I was saying over a mike. It was turning into something that wasn't even a spectacle, because we couldn't see each other. But there was another reason why it's come to a standstill. The problem for me was-I'll be quite blunt about it-the fact that I had to go through this sort of circus every Wednesday was really-how can I put it?torture is putting it too strongly, boredom is putting it too mildly, so I suppose it was somewhere between the two. The result was that I was really preparing these lectures, putting a lot of care and attention into it, and I was spending a lot less time on research in the real sense of the word if you like, on the interesting but somewhat incoherent things I could have been saying, than on asking myself the question: How, in the space of an hour, an hour and a half, can I put something across in such a way that I don't bore people too much, and that they get some reward for being kind enough to get here so early to hear what I have to say in such a short space of time. It got to the point where I was spending months on it, and I think that the reason for my presence here, and the reason for your presence here, is to do research, to slog away, to blow the dust off certain things, to have ideas, and that all that is the reward for the work that has been

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done. So I said to myself: It wouldn't be such a bad idea if thirty or forty of us co

I've been doing, and at the same time have some contact with you, talk to you, answer your questions and so on, and try to rediscover the possibility of the exchange and contact that are part of the normal practice of research or teaching. So what should I do? In legal terms, I cannot lay down any formal conditions as to who has access to this room. I've therefore adopted the guerrilla method of moving the lecture to nine-thirty in the morning in the belief that, as my correspondent was telling me yesterday, students are no longer capable of getting up at nine-thirty. You might say that it's not a very fair selection criterion: those who get up, and those who don't get up. It's as good as any. In any case, there are always the little mikes there, and the tape machines, and word gets around afterward-sometimes it remains on tape, sometimes it is transcribed, and sometimes it turns up in the bookshops-so I said to myself, word always gets out. So I will try [ ... ] so I'm sorry if I've got you out of bed early, and my apologies to those who can't be with us; it was a way of getting our Wednesday conversations and meetings back into the normal pattern of research, of ongoing work, and that means reporting on it at regular institutional intervals.

So what was I going to say to you this year? That I've just about had enough; in other words, I'd like to bring to a close, to put an end to, up to a point, the series of research projects-well, yes, "research" -we all talk about it, but what does it actually mean?-that we've been working on for four or five years, or practically ever since I've been here, and I realize that there were more and more drawbacks, for both you and me. Lines of research that were verv closely interrelated but that never added up to a coherent body of work, that had no continuity. Fragments of research, none of which was completed, and none of which was followed through; bits and pieces of research, and at the same time it was getting very repetitive, always falling into the same rut, the same themes, the same concepts. A few remarks on the history of penal procedure; a few chapters on the evolution, the institutionalization of psychiatry in the nineteenth cen-


tury; considerations on sophistry or Greek coins; an outline history of sexuality, or at least a history of knowledge about sexuality based upon seventeenth-century confessional practices, or controls on infantile sexuality in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; pinpointing the genesis of a theory and knowledge of anomalies, and of all the related techniques. Weare making no progress, and it's all leading nowhere. It's all repetitive, and it doesn't add up. Basically, we keep saying the same thing, and there again, perhaps we're not saying anything at all. It's all getting into something of an inextricable tangle, and it's getting us nowhere, as they say.

I could tell you that these things were trails to be followed, that it didn't matter where they led, or even that the one thing that did matter was that they didn't lead anywhere, or at least not in some predetermined direction. I could say they were like an outline for something. It's up to you to go on with them or to go off on a tangent; and it's up to me to pursue them or give them a different configuration. And then, we-you or I-could see what could be done with these fragments. I felt a bit like a sperm whale that breaks the surface of the water, makes a little splash, and lets you believe, makes you believe, or want to believe, that down there where it can't be seen, down there where it is neither seen nor monitored by anyone, it is following a deep, coherent, and premeditated trajectory.

That is more or less the position we were in, as I see it: I don't know what it looked like from where you are sitting. After all, the fact that the work I described to you looked both fragmented, repetitive, and discontinuous was quite in keeping with what might be called a "feverish laziness." It's a character trait of people who love libraries, documents, references, dusty manuscripts, texts that have never been read, books which, no sooner printed, were closed and then slept on the shelves and were only taken down centuries later. All this quite suits the busy inertia of those who profess useless knowledge, a sort of sumptuary knowledge, the wealth of a parvenuand, as you well know, its external signs are found at the foot of the page. It should appeal to all those who feel sympathetic to one of





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those secret societies, no doubt the oldest and the most characteristic in the West, one of those strangely indestructible secret societies that were, I think, unknown in antiquity and which were formed in the early Christian era. probably at the time of the first monasteries, on the fringes of invasions, fires, and forests. I am talking about the great, tender, and warm freemasonry of useless erudition.

Except that it was not just a liking for this freemasonry that led me to do what I've been doing. It seems to me that we could justify the work we've been doing, in a somewhat empirical and haphazard way on both my part and yours, by saying that it was quite in keeping with a certain period; with the very limited period we have been living through for the last ten or fifteen years, twenty at the most. I am talking about a period in which we can observe two phenomena which were, if not really important, rather interesting. On the one hand, this has been a period characterized by what we might call the efficacy of dispersed and discontinuous offensives. I am thinking of many things, of, for instance, the strange efficacy, when it came to jamming the workings of the psychiatric institution, of the discourse,

the discourses-and they really were very localized-of antipsychiatry. And you know perfectly well that they were not supported, are not supported, by any overall systematization, no matter what their points of reference were and are. I am thinking of the original reference to

existential analysis,' and of contemporary references to, broadly speak-

~.. ing, Marxism or Reich's theories.' I am also thinking of the strange efficacy of the attacks that have been made on, say, morality and the traditional sexual hierarchy; they too referred in only vague and distant terms to Reich or Marcuse.' I am also thinking of the efficacy of

. the attacks on the judiciary and penal apparatus, some of which were

~. very distantly related to the general-and fairly dubious-notion of "class justice," while others were basically related, albeit almost as distantly, to an anarchist thematic. I am also thinking much more specifically of the efficacy of something-I hesitate to call it a booklike Anti-Oedipus.' which referred to, which refers to nothing but its own prodigious theoretical creativity-that book, that event, or that



thing that succeeded, at the level of day-to-day practice, in introducing a note of hoarseness into the whisper that had been passing from couch to armchair without any interruption for such a long time.

So I would say: for the last ten or fifteen years, the immense and proliferating criticizability of things, institutions, practices, and discourses; a sort of general feeling that the ground was crumbling beneath our feet, especially in places where it seemed most familiar, most solid, and closest [nearest] to us, to our bodies, to our everyday gestures. But alongside this crumbling and the astonishing efficacy of discontinuous, particular, and local critiques, the facts were also revealing something that could not, perhaps, have been foreseen from the outset: what might be called the inhibiting effect specific to totalitarian theories, or at least-what I mean is-all-encompassing and global theories. Not that all-encompassing and global theories haven't, in fairly constant fashion, provided-and don't continue to providetools that can be used at the local level; Marxism and psychoanalysis are living proof that they can. But they have, I think, provided tools that can be used at the local level only when, and this is the real point, the theoretical unity of their discourse is, so to speak, suspended, or at least cut up, ripped up, torn to shreds, turned inside out, displaced, caricatured, dramatized, theatricalized, and so on. Or at least that the totalizing approach always has the effect of putting the brakes on. So that, if vou like, is my first point, the first characteristic of what has been happening over the last fifteen years or so: the local character of the critique; this does not, I think, mean soft eclecticism, opportunism, or openness to any old theoretical undertaking, nor does it mean a sort of deliberate asceticism that boils down to losing as much theoretical weight as possible. I think that the essentially local character of the critique in fact indicates something resembling a sort of autonomous and noncentralized theoretical production, or in other words a theoretical production that does not need a visa from some common regime to establish its validity.

This brings us to a second feature of what has been happening for some time now. The point is this: It is what might be called "returns of knowledge" that makes this local critique possible. What I mean

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by "returns of knowledge" is this: While it is true that in recent years we have often encountered, at least at the superficial level, a whole thematic: "life, not knowledge," "the real, not erudition," "money, not books,"* it appears to me that beneath this whole thematic, through it and even within it, we have seen what might be called the insurrection of subjugated knowledges. When I say "subjugated knowledges," I mean two things. On the one hand, I am referring to historical contents that have been buried or masked in functional coherences or formal systematizations. To put it in concrete terms if you like, it was certainly not a semiology of life in the asylum or a sociology of delinquence that made an effective critique of the asylum or the prison possible; it really was the appearance of historical contents. Quite simply because historical contents alone allow us to see the dividing lines in the confrontations and struggles that functional arrangements or systematic organizations are designed to mask. Subjugated know ledges are, then, blocks of historical knowledges that were present in the functional and systematic ensembles, but which were masked, and the critique was able to reveal their existence by using, obviously enough, the tools of scholarship.

Second, I think subjugated knowledges should be understood as meaning something else and, in a sense, something quite different. When I say "subjugated knowledges" I am also referring to a whole series of knowledges that have been disqualified as nonconceptual knowledges, as insufficiently elaborated knowledges: naive knowledges, hierarchically inferior know ledges, knowledges that are below the required level of erudition or scientificity. And it is thanks to the reappearance of these know ledges from below, of these unqualified or even disqualified knowledges, it is thanks to the reappearance of these knowledges: the knowledge of the psvchiatrized, the patient, the nurse, the doctor, that is parallel to, marginal to, medical knowledge, the knowledge of the delinquent, what I would call, if you like, what people know (and this is by no means the same thing as com on knowledge or common sense but, on the contrary, a particular knowl-

*In the manuscript. "travel" replaces "rnonev."


edge, a knowledge that is local, regional, or differential, incapable of unanimity and which derives its power solely from the fact that it is different from all the knowledges that surround it), it is the reappearance of what people know at a local level, of these disqualified know ledges, that made the critique possible.

You might object that there is something very paradoxical about grouping together and putting into the same category of "subjugated know ledges," on the one hand, historical, meticulous, precise, technical expertise and, on the other, these singular, local knowledges, the noncommonsensical knowledges that people have, and which have in a way been left to lie fallow, or even kept in the margins. Well, I think it is the coupling together of the buried scholarly knowledge and knowledges that were disqualified by the hierarchy of erudition and sciences that actually gave the discursive critique of the last fifteen years its essential strength. What was at stake in both cases, in both this scholarly knowledge and these disqualified knowledges, in these two forms of knowledge-the buried and the disqualified? A historical knowledge of struggles. Both the specialized domain of scholarship and the disqualified knowledge people have contained the memory of combats, the very memory that had until then been confined to the margins. And so we have the outline of what might be called a genealogy, or of multiple genealogical investigations. We have both a meticulous rediscovery of struggles and the raw memory of fights. These genealogies are a combination of erudite knowledge and what people know. They would not have been possible-they could not even have been attempted-were it not for one thing: the removal of the tyranny of overall discourses, with their hierarchies and all the privileges enjoyed by theoretical vanguards. If you like, we can give the name "genealogy" to this coupling together of scholarly erudition and local memories, which allows us to constitute a historical knowledge of struggles and to make use of that knowledge in contemporary tactics. That can, then, serve as a provisional definition of the genealogies I have been trying to trace with you over the last few years.

You can see that this activity, which we can describe as genealogical, is certainly not a matter of contrasting the abstract unity of

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theory with the concrete multiplicity of the facts. It is certainly not a matter of some form or other of scientism that disqualifies speculation by contrasting it with the rigor of well-established bodies of knowledge. It is therefore not an empiricism that runs through the genealogical project, nor does it lead to a positivism, in the normal sense of the word. It is a way of playing local, discontinuous, disqualified, or nonlegitimized knowledges off against the unitary theoretical instance that claims to be able to filter them, organize them into a hierarchy, organize them in the name of a true body of knowledge, in the name of the rights of a science that is in the hands of the few. Genealogies are therefore not positivistic returns to a form of science that is more attentive or more accurate. Genealogies are, quite specifically, antisciences, It is not that they demand the lyrical right to be ignorant, and not that they reject knowledge, or invoke or celebrate some immediate experience that has yet to be captured by knowledge. That is not what they are about. They are about the insurrection of knowledges. Not so much against the contents, methods, or concepts of a science; this is above all, primarily, an insurrection against the centralizing power-effects that are bound up with the institutionalization and workings of any scientific discourse organized in a society such as ours. That this institutionalization of scientific discourse is embodied in a university or, in general terms, a pedagogical apparatus, that this institutionalization of scientific discourses is embodied in a theoretico-comrnercial network such as psychoanalysis, or in a political apparatus-with everything that implies-is largely irrelevant. Genealogy has to fight the power-effects characteristic of any discourse that is regarded as scientific.

To put it in more specific terms, or at least in terms that might mean more to you, let me say this: you know how many people have been asking themselves whether or not Marxism is a science for many years now, probably for more than a century. One might say that the same question has been asked, and is still being asked, of psychoanalysis or, worse still, of the semiology of literary texts. Genealogies' or genealogists' answer to the question "Is it a science or not?" is:

"Turning Marxism, or psychoanalysis, or whatever else it IS, into a






SCIence IS precisely what we are criticizing you for. And if there is one objection to be made against Marxism, it's that it might well be a science." To put it in more-if not more sophisticated terms-[ at least] milder terms, let me say this: even before we know to what extent something like Marxism or psychoanalysis is analogous to a scientific practice in its day-to-day operations, in its rules of construction, in the concepts it uses, we should be asking the question, asking ourselves about the aspiration to power that is inherent in the claim to being a science. The question or questions that have to be asked are: "What types of knowledge are you trying to disqualify when you say that you are a science? What speaking subject, what discursive subject, what subject of experience and knowledge are you trying to minorize when you begin to say: 'I speak this discourse, I am speaking a scientific discourse, and I am a scientist.' What theoretico-political vanguard are you trying to put on the throne in order to detach it from all the massive, circulating, and discontinuous forms that knowledge can take?" And I would say: "When I see you trying to prove that Marxism is a science, to tell the truth, I do not really see you trying to demonstrate once and for all that Marxism has a rational structure and that its propositions are therefore the products of verification procedures. I see you, first and foremost, doing something different. I see you connecting to Marxist discourse, and I see you assigning to those who speak that discourse the power-effects that the West has, ever since the Middle Ages, ascribed to a science and reserved for those who speak a scientific discourse."

Compared to the attempt to inscribe knowledges in the powerhierarchy typical of science, genealogy is, then, a sort of attempt to desubjugate historical know ledges, to set them free, or in other words to enable them to oppose and struggle against the coercion of a unitary, formal, and scientific theoretical discourse. The project of these disorderly and tattered genealogies is to reactivate local know ledgesDeleuze would no doubt call them "minor"5-against the scientific hierarchicalization of knowledge and its intrinsic power-effects. To put it in a nutshell: Archaeology is the method specific to the analysis of local discursivities, and genealogy is the tactic which, once it has

7 January 1976 11

described these local discursivities, brings into play the desubjugated know ledges that have been released from them. That just about sums up the overall project.

So you can see that all the fragments of research, all the interconnected and interrupted things I have been repeating so stubbornly for four or five years now, might be regarded as elements of these genealogies, and that I am not the only one to have been doing this over the last fifteen years. Far from it. Question: So why not go on with such a theory of discontinuity, when it is so pretty and probably so hard to verify?6 Why don't I go on, and why don't I take a quick look at something to do with psychiatry, with the theory of sexuality?

It's true that one could go on-and I will try to go on up to a point-were it not, perhaps, for a certain number of changes, and changes in the conjuncture. What I mean is that compared to the situation we had five, ten, or even fifteen years ago, things have, perhaps, changed; perhaps the battle no longer looks quite the same. Well, are we really still in the same relationship of force, and does it allow us to exploit the knowledges we have dug out of the sand, to exploit them as they stand, without their becoming subjugated once more? What strength do they have in themselves? And after all, once we have excavated our genealogical fragments, once we begin to exploit them and to put in circulation these elements of knowledge that we have been trying to dig out of the sand, isn't there a danger that they will be receded, recolonized by these unitary discourses which, having first disqualified them and having then ignored them when they reappeared, may now be ready to reannex them and include them in their own discourses and their own power-knowledge eHects? And if we try to protect the fragments we have dug up, don't we run the risk of building, with our own hands, a unitary discourse? That is what we are being invited to do, that is the trap that is being set for us by all those who say, "It's all very well, but where does it get us? Where does it lead us? What unity does it give us?" The temptation is, up to a point, to say: Right, let's continue, let's accumulate. After all, there is no danger at the moment that we will be colonized. I was saying a moment ago that these genealogical fragments might be in



danger of being recoded, but we could throw down a challenge and say, 'just try it!" We could, for instance, say, Look: ever since the very beginnings of antipsychiatry or of the genealogies of psychiatric institutions-and it has been going on for a good fifteen years nowhas a single Marxist, psychoanalyst, or psychiatrist ever attempted to redo it in their own terms or demonstrated that these genealogies were wrong, badly elaborated, badly articulated, or ill-founded? The way things stand, the fragments of genealogy that have been done are in fact still there, surrounded by a wary silence. The only arguments that have been put forward against them are-at the very bestpropositions like the one we recently heard from, I think it was M. juquin:" "All this is very well. But the fact remains that Soviet psychiatry is the best in the world." My answer to that is: "Yes, of course, you're right. Soviet psychiatry is the best in the world. That's just what I hold against it." The silence, or rather the caution with which unitary theories avoid the genealogy of knowledges might therefore be one reason for going on. One could at any rate unearth more and more genealogical fragments, like so many traps, questions, challenges, or whatever you want to call them. Given that we are talking about a battle-the battle knowledges are waging against the power-effects of scientific discourse-it is probably overoptimistic to assume that our adversary's silence proves that he is afraid of us. The silence of an adversary-and this is a methodological principle or a tactical principle that must always be kept in mind-could just as easily be a sign that he is not afraid of us at all. And we must, I think, behave as though he really is not frightened of us. And I am not suggesting that we give all these scattered genealogies a continuous, solid theoretical basis-the last thing I want to do is give them, superimpose on them, a sort of theoretical crown that would unify them-but that we should try, in future lectures, probably beginning this year, to specify or identify what is at stake when knowledges begin to challenge, struggle against, and rise up against the instutition and the power- and know ledge-effects of scientific discourse.

As you know, and as I scarcely need point out, what is at stake in all these genealogies is this: What is this power whose irruption, force,

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Impact, and absurdity have become palpably obvious over the last forty years, as a result of both the collapse of Nazism and the retreat of Stalinism? What is power? Or rather-given that the question "What is power?" is obviously a theoretical question that would provide an answer to everything, which is just what I don't want to dothe issue is to determine what are, in their mechanisms, effects, their relations, the various power-apparatuses that operate at various levels of society, in such very different domains and with so many different extensions? Roughly speaking, I think that what is at stake in all this is this: Can the analysis of power, or the analysis of powers, be III one way or another deduced from the economy?

This is why I ask the question, and this is what I mean by It. certainly do not wish to erase the countless differences or huge differences, but, despite and because of these differences, it seems to me that the juridical conception and, let's say, the liberal conception of political power-which we find in the philosophers of the eighteenth century-do have certain things in common, as does the Marxist conception, or at least a certain contemporary conception that passes for the Marxist conception. Their common feature is what I will call "economism" in the theory of power. What I mean to say is this: In the case of the classic juridical theory of power, power is regarded as a right which can be possessed in the way one possesses a commodity, and which can therefore be transferred or alienated, either completely or partly, through a juridical act or an act that founds a right-it does not matter which, for the moment-thanks to the surrender of something or thanks to a contract. Power is the concrete power that any individual can hold, and which he can surrender, either as a whole or in part, so as to constitute a power or a political sovereignty. In the body of theory to which I am referring, the constitution of political power is therefore constituted by this series, or is modeled on a juridical operation similar to an exchange of contracts. There is therefore an obvious analogy, and it runs through all these theories, between power and commodities, between power and wealth.

In the other case, and I am obviously thinking here of the general Marxist conception of power, there is obviously none of this. In this



Marxist conception, you have something else that might be called the "economic functionality" of power. "Economic functionality" to the extent that the role of power is essentially both to perpetuate the relations of production and to reproduce a class domination that is made possible by the development of the productive forces and the ways they are appropriated. In this case, political power finds its historical raison d'etre in the economy. Broadly speaking, we have, if you like, in one case a political power which finds its formal model in the process of exchange, in the economy of the circulation of goods; and in the other case, political power finds its historical raison d'etre, the principle of its concrete form and of its actual workings in the economy.

The problem that is at issue in the research I am talking about can, I think, be broken down as follows. First: Is power always secondary to the economy? Are its finality and function always determined by the economy? Is power's raison d'etre and purpose essentially to serve the economy? Is it designed to establish, solidify, perpetuate, and reproduce relations that are characteristic of the economy and essential to its workings? Second question: Is power modeled on the commodity? Is power something that can be possessed and acquired, that can be surrendered through a contract or by force, that can be alienated or recuperated, that circulates and fertilizes one region but avoids others? Or if we wish to analyze it, do we have to operate-on the contrary-with different instruments, even if power relations are deeply involved in and with economic relations, even if power relations and economic relations always constitute a sort of network or loop? If that is the case, the indissociability of the economy and politics is not a matter of functional subordination, nor of formal isomorphism. It is of a different order, and it is precisely that order that we have to isolate.

What tools are currently available for a noneconomic analysis of power? I think that we can say that we really do not have a lot. We have, first of all, the assertion that power is not something that is given, exchanged, or taken back, that it is something that is exercised and that it exists only in action. We also have the other assertion,

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that power is not primarily the perpetuation and renewal of economic relations, but that it is primarily, in itself, a relationship of force. Which raises some questions, or rather two questions. If power is exercised, what is the exercise of power? What does it consist of? What is its mechanism? We have here what I would call an off-thecuff answer, or at least an immediate response, and it seems to me that this is, ultimately, the answer given by the concrete reality of many contemporary analyses: Power is essentially that which represses. Power is that which represses nature, instincts, a class, or individuals. And when we find contemporary discourse trotting out the definition that power is that which represses, contemporary discourse is not really saying anything new. Hegel was the first to say this, and then Freud and then Reich." In any case, in today's vocabulary, being an organ of repression is almost power's Homeric epithet. So, must the analysis of power be primarily, essentially even, an analysis of the mechanisms of repression?

Second-second off-the-cuff answer, if you like-if power is indeed the implementation and deployment of a relationship of force, rather than analyzing it in terms of surrender, contract, and alienation, or rather than analyzing it in functional terms as the reproduction of the relations of production, shouldn't we be analyzing it first and foremost in terms of conflict, confrontation, and war? That would give us an alternative to the first hypothesis-which is that the mechanism of power is basically or essentially repression-or a second hypothesis:

Power is war, the continuation of war by other means. At this point, we can invert Clausewitz's proposition? and say that politics is the continuation of war by other means. This would imply three things. First, that power relations, as they function in a society like ours, are essentially anchored in a certain relationship of force that was established in and through war at a given historical moment that can be historically specified. And while it is true that political power puts an end to war and establishes or attempts to establish the reign of peace in civil society, it certainly does not do so in order to suspend the effects of power or to neutralize the disequilibrium revealed by the last battle of the war. According to this hypothesis, the role of




political power is perpetually to use a sort of silent war to reinscribe that relationship of force, and to reinscribe it in institutions, economic inequalities, language, and even the bodies of individuals. This is the initial meaning of our inversion of Clausewitz's aphorism-politics is the continuation of war by other means. Politics, in other words, sanctions and reproduces the disequilibrium of forces manifested in war. Inverting the proposition also means something else, namely that within this "civil peace," these political struggles, these clashes over or with power, these modifications of relations of force-the shifting balance, the reversals-in a political system, all these things must be interpreted as a continuation of war. And they are interpreted as so many episodes, fragmentations, and displacements of the war itself. Weare always writing the history of the same war, even when we are writing the history of peace and its institutions.

Inverting Clausewitz's aphorism also has a third meaning: The final decision can come only from war, or in other words a trial by strength in which weapons are the final judges. It means that the last battle would put an end to politics, or in other words, that the last battle would at last-and I mean "at last"-suspend the exercise of power as continuous warfare.

So you see, once we try to get away from economistic schemata in our attempt to analyze power, we immediately find ourselves faced with two grand hypotheses; according to one, the mechanism of power is repression-for the sake of convenience, I will call this Reich's hypothesis, if you like-and according to the second, the basis of the power-relationship lies in a warlike clash between forces-for the sake of convenience, I will call this Nietzsche's hypothesis. The two hypotheses are not irreconcilable; on the contrary, there seems to be a fairly logical connection between the two. After all, isn't repression the political outcome of war, just as oppression was, in the classical theory of political right, the result of the abuse of sovereignty within the juridical domain?

We can, then, contrast two great systems for analyzing power. The first, which is the old theory you find in the philosophers of the seventeenth century, is articulated around power as a primal right




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7 January 1976


that is surrendered, and which constitutes sovereignty, with the contract as the matrix of political power. And when the power that has been so constituted oversteps the limit, or oversteps the limits of the contract, there is a danger that it will become oppression. Powercontract, with oppression as the limit, or rather the transgression of the limit. And then we have the other system, which tries to analyze power not in terms of the contract-oppression schema, but in terms of the war-repression schema. At this point, repression is not what oppression was in relation to the contract, namely an abuse, but, on the contrary, simply the effect and the continuation of a relationship of domination. Repression is no more than the implementation, within a pseudopeace that is being undermined by a continuous war, of a perpetual relationship of force. So, two schemata for the analysis of power: the contract-oppression schema, which is, if you like, the juridical schema, and the war-repression or domination-repression schema, in which the pertinent opposition is not, as in the previous schema, that between the legitimate and the illegitimate, but that between struggle and submission.

It is obvious that everything I have said to you III prevIous years is inscribed within the struggle-repression schema. That is indeed the schema I was trying to apply. Now, as I tried to apply it, I was eventually forced to reconsider it; both because, in many respects, it is still insufficiently elaborated-I would even go so far as to say that it is not elaborated at all-and also because I think that the twin notions of "repression" and "war" have to be considerably modified and ultimately, perhaps, abandoned. At all events, we have to look very closely at these two notions of "repression" and "war"; if you like, we have to look a little more closely at the hypothesis that the mechanisms of power are essentiallv mechanisms of repression, and at the alternative hypothesis that what is rumbling away and what is at work beneath political power is essentially and above all a warlike relation.

Without wishing to boast, I think that I have in fact long been suspicious of this notion of "repression," and I have attempted to show you, in relation to the genealogies I was talking about just now,



in relation to the history of penal law, psychiatric power, controls on infantile sexuality, and so on, that the mechanisms at work in these power formations were something very different from-or at least much more than-repression. I cannot go any further without repeating some of this analysis of repression, without pulling together everything I have said about it, no doubt in a rambling sort of way. The next lecture, perhaps the next two lectures, will therefore be devoted to a critical reexamination of the notion of "repression," to trying to show how and why what is now the widespread notion of repression cannot provide an adequate description of the mechanisms and effects of power, cannot define them.!?

Most of the next lecture will, however, be devoted to the other side of the question, or in other words the problem of war. I would like to try to see the extent to which the binary schema of war and struggle, of the clash between forces, can really be identified as the basis of civil society, as both the principle and motor of the exercise of political power. Are we really talking about war when we analyze the workings of power? Are the notions of "tactics," "strategy," and "relations of force" valid? To what extent are they valid? Is power quite simply a continuation of war by means other than weapons and battles? Does what has now become the commonplace theme, though it is a relatively recent theme, that power is responsible for defending civil society imply, yes or no, that the political structure of society is so organized that some can defend themselves against others, or can defend their domination against the rebellion of others, or quite simply defend their victory and perpetuate it by subjugating others?

The outline for this year's course will, then, be as follows: one or two lectures devoted to a reexamination of the notion of repression; then I will begin [to look atJ-I may go on in the years to come, I've no idea-this problem of the war in civil society. I will begin by eliminating the very people who are said to be the theorists of the war in civil society, and who are in my view no such thing, namely Machiavelli and Hobbes. Then I will try to look again at the theory that war is the historical principle behind the workings of power, in the context of the race problem, as it was racial binarism that led the

J t

7 January 1976


West to see for the first time that it was possible to analyze political power as war. And I will try to trace this down to the moment when race struggle and class struggle became, at the end of the nineteenth century, the two great schemata that were used to identify the phenomenon of war and the relationship of force within political society.



1. Michel Foucault is referring to the psychiatric movement ( defined either as "anthropophenomenology" or Dosemanalvse) which derived new conceptual instruments from the philosophy of Husserl and Heidegger. Foucault examines this in his earliest writings. Cf. chapter 'j of Maladie mentale et persona/ttl (Paris: PUF, 1954) ("La Maladie et I'exist ence"); the introduction to Ludwig Binswanger, Le Reoe et l'existence (Paris: Desclee de Brouwer) (reprinted in Dits et ecrits voL 1, pp.65-119; English translation by Forrest Williams, "Dream, Imagination, and Existence," in Michel Foucault and Ludwig Binswanger, Dream and Existence, ed. Keith Holler l Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press J; "La PSychologie de 1850 it 1950," in A. Weber and D. Husiman, Tableau de la philosophie contemporaine (Paris: Fischbacher, 1954) (reprinted in Dit s et ecnts vol. 1, pp. 120-37); "La Recherche en psvchologie," in J. E. Morrere, ed., Des Chercheurs s'interrogent (Paris: PUF, 1957) (reprinted in Dits et ecnts voL 1, pp. 137-58). Foucault returned to these topics in his last years; d. Colloqui con Foucault (Salerno: 10/17 Cooperativa editrice, 1981) ( French translation: "Entretien avec Michel Foucault," Dits et ecrits voL 4, pp. 41-95; English translation by James Goldstein and James Cascaito, Remarks on Marx l New York:

Semiotext( e), 1991]).

2. See Wilhelm Reich, Die Funktion des Orgusmus; '(!" Psychopathologie und zur .Sociologie des Ceschlechtslebens (Vienna: Internationaler psychanalyt ischer Verlag, 1927) (French translation: La Fonction de I'orgasme [Paris: L'Arche, 19711; English translation: The Function of the Orgasm [New York: Condor Books, 1983]); Der Einhrach des Sexualmoral (Berlin:

Verlag fur Se xualpolitik, 1932) (French translation: L'lrruption de I a morale sexuelle [Paris:

Pavor, 1972]; English translation: The lnuasion of Compulsory Sex Morality [New York:

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1971 J); Charaiaeranalyse ( Vienna: Selbstverlag des Ver iassers, 193» (French translation: L'Analyse caracterielle [Paris: Payor, 1971 J; English translation:

Character Analysis [New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1972»; Massenpsychologie des Faschismus: zur Sexualonomic der politischen Reakuon und zur proletarischen Sexualpolitik (Copenhagen, Paris, and Zurich: Verlag fur Sexualpolitik, 1933) (French translation: La Psychologi« de masse dufascisme [Paris: Payor, 1974J; English translation: The Mass Ps.ychology oj FaSCIsm [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970]); Die Sexualitdt im Kulturkamp] (Copenhagen: Sexpol V erlag, 19~6) ( English translation: The Sexual Revolution [London: V ision Press, 1972 D.

3. Michel Foucault is obviouslv referring here to Herbert Marcuse, Ems and Ci,·tlizytJon: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud (Boston: Beacon Press, 1955) (French translation: Ems et cirilisation l Paris: Seuil, 1971 J ) and One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (Boston: Beacon Press, 19(6) (French translation: L'Homme unidimension-

ne! I Paris: Se';il, 1970 J). .

It. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipe (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1972). It will be recalled that Foucault develops this interpretation of Anti-Oedipe as livre euenement in his preface to the English translation (English translation by Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane. Anti-OedIpus [New York: Viking, 1983]). For the French version see Dill et wits voL 3, pp.133-36.

5. The concepts of "minor" and "minority" ~singular events rather than individual essences, individuation through "ecceitv" rather than substantialitv-vwere elaborated by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattan in their Kafka. pour une litterature mineure (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 197 ~) (English translation by Reda Bensmaia, Kafka: For a Minor Literature [Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986J), reworked by Deleuze In his article "philo sophie et mmorite" ( Critique, Februarv 1978) and then further developed, notably in Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattan, M1l1e Plateaux; capitalismc et schi;:,ophrenle (Paris:

Editions de Minuit, 1(80) (English translation by Brian Massumi, A Thousand Plateaus:

Capitalism and S,hi',ophrenta [Minneapolis: Universrtv of Minnesota Press D. "Minority" also relates to the concept of "molecular" elaborated by Felix Guattari In Psvchanalvse et

7 January 1976


transoersalite, Essai d'analyse institutionnelle (Paris: Maspero, 1972). Its logIC is that of "becoming" and "intensit ies."

6. Michel Foucault is referring to the debate about the concept of the episterne and the status of discontinuity that was opened up bv the publication of Les Mots et les chases: une archaeologie des sciences humatnes (Paris: Gallimard, 19(6) (English translation: The Order ~( Tllln?! [London: Tavistock, 1970 D. He replied to criticisms in a series of the oretical and methodological miffs au point. See in particular "Reponse a une question," Esprit, May 1968, reprinted in Dits et ecrits vol. I, pp.673-95; "Reponse au Cercle d'epistemologie," Cahiers pour I'analyse 9 (1968), pp. 9-40, reprinted in Dits et ecrus vo l, 1, pp. 694-731; English translation: "On the Archaeology of the Science: Response to the Epistemology Circle," Essential Works vol. 2, pp.297-353.

7. At that time, a depute in the Parti Communiste Francais.

8.Cf. G. W. F. Hegel. Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechtes (Berlin. 1821). pp.182·340 (French translation: Pnnapes de la philosophie du droit [Paris: V rm, 1975 J); Hegel's PhtJosophy of Right. translated with notes by T. M. Knox (Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1952); Sigmund Freud. "Das Unbewussten," in lntemationale Zeitschriite fur artzl.i<:he Psychoanalyse, vol. .~ (1915) (English translation: "The Unconscious," in Pelican Freud Library, Vol. 11: On Metapsychology: The Theory ~f Psychoanalysis [Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984 J); and Die blwnft emer Illusion (Leipzig/Vienna/Zurich: Internationaler Psychoanalvtischer Verlag, 1927) (French translation: L'A.venir d'une Illusion [Paris: Denoel , 1932], reprinted Paris:

PUF, 1995; English translation: The Future of an Illusion, in The Pelican Freud Library, Vol. 12: Cu,i/ization. Society and Religron. Grvup PS_"IChology. Civilization and Its Discontents and Other Works [Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985 J); on Reich, cf. note 2 above.

9. Foucault alludes to the well-known formulation of Cad von Clausewitz's principle (Vom Kriege book 1, chap. 1, xxiv, in Hinterlassene Werke, bd. 1-2'-3 [Berlin, 1832J): "War is a mere continuation of policy by other means .... War is not merely a political act. but .150 a truly political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means." On War, edited with an introduction by A natal Rapoport (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1982) (French translation: De la gr'm~ [Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1955]).

10. This promise was not kept. A lecture on "repression" is, however, intercalated in the manuscript; it was presumably given at a foreign university. Foucault returns to this question in La Volonle de saooir (Paris: Gallimard, 1976) (English translation by Robert Hurley: The H,JIOIY ~f Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction [Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981]).


14 JANUARY 1976

War and power. - Phzlosophy and the limits of power. - Law and royal power. - Law, domination, and subjugation. - Ana~ytics of power: questions of method. - Theory C!f sovereignty. - DIsciplinary power. - Rule and norm.

THIS YEAR, I WOULD like to begin-and to do no more than begina series of investigations into whether or not war can possibly provide

~ . a principle for the analysis of power relations: can we find in bellicose relations, in the model of war, in the schema of struggle or struggles, a principle that can help us understand and analyze political power, to interpret political power in terms of war, struggles, and confrontations? I would like to begin, obviously, with a contrapuntal analysis of the military institution, of the real, actual, and historical way in which military institutions have functioned in our societies from the seventeenth century until the present day.

Until now, or for roughly the last five years, it has been disciplines; for the next five years, it will be war, struggle, the army. At the same time, I would like to sum up what I have been trying to say in previous years, because doing so will give me more time for my research on war, which has not got very far, and also because doing so might provide a framework of reference for those of you who were

not here in previous years. In any case, I'd like to sum up what I have been trymg to cover for my own benefit.

. '



What I have been trying to look at since 1970-1971 is the "how" of power. Studying the "how of power," or in other words trying to understand its mechanisms by establishing two markers, or limits; on the one hand, the rules of right that formally delineate power, and on the other hand, at the opposite extreme, the other limit might be the truth-effects that power produces, that this power conducts and which, in their turn, reproduce that power. So we have the triangle: power, right, truth. In schematic terms, let us say that there is a traditional question, which is, I think, that of political philosophy. It can be formulated thus: How does the discourse of truth or, quite simply, philosophy-in the sense that philosophy is the discourse of truth par excellence-establish the limits of power's right? That is the traditional question. Now the question I would like to ask is a question from below, and it is a very factual question compared to that traditional, noble, and philosophical question. My problem is roughly this: What are the rules of right that power implements to produce discourses of truth? Or: What type of power is it that is capable of producing discourses of power that have, in a society like ours, such powerful effects?

What I mean is this: In a society such as ours-or in any society, come to that-mulitiple relations of power traverse, characterize, and constitute the social body; they are indissociable from a discourse of truth, and they can neither be established nor function unless a true discourse is produced, accumulated, put into circulation, and set to work. Power cannot be exercised unless a certain economy of discourses of truth functions in, on the basis of, and thanks to, that power. This is true of all societies, but I think that in our society, this relationship among power, right, and truth is organized in a very particular way.

In order to characterize not just the mechanism of the relationship between power, right, and truth itself but its intensity and constancy, let us say that we are obliged to produce the truth by the power that demands truth and needs it in order to function: we are forced to tell the truth, we are constrained, we are condemned to admit the truth

14}anuary 1976


or to discover it. Power constantly asks questions and questions us; it constantly investigates and records; it institutionalizes the search for the truth, professionalizes it, and rewards it. We have to produce the truth in the same way, really, that we have to produce wealth, and we have to produce the truth in order to be able to produce wealth. In a different sense, we are also subject to the truth in the sense that truth lays down the law: it is the discourse of truth that decides, at least in part; it conveys and propels truth-effects. After all, we are judged, condemned, forced to perform tasks, and destined to live and die in certain ways by discourses that are true, and which bring with them specific power-effects. So: rules of right, mechanisms of power, truth-effects. Or: rules of power, and the power of true discourses. That, roughly, is the very general domain I wanted to examine, and which I have been examining to some extent and with, as I am well aware, many digressions.

I would now like to say a few words about this domain. What general principle guided me, and what were the imperative commands, or the methodological precautions that I resolved to take? Where relations between right and power are concerned, the general principle is, it seems to me, that one fact must never be forgotten: In Western societies, the elaboration of juridical thought has essentially centered around royal power ever since the Middle Ages. The juridical edifice of our societies was elaborated at the demand of royal power, as well as for its benefit, and in order to serve as its instrument or its justification. In the West, right is the right of the royal command. Everyone is of course familiar with the famous, celebrated, repeated, and repetitive role played by jurists in the organization of royal power. It must not be forgotten that the reactivation of Roman law in the middle of the Middle Ages-and this was the great phenomenon that made it possible to reconstruct a juridical edifice that had collapsed after the fall of the Roman Empire-was one of the instruments that was used to constitute monarchical, authoritarian, administrative, and, ultimately, absolute power. The juridical edifice was, then, formed around the royal personage, at the demand of royal



power, and for the benefit of royal power. When III later centunes this juridical edifice escaped from royal control, when it was turned against royal power, the issue at stake was always, and always would be, the limits of that power, the question of its prerogatives. In other words, I believe that the king was the central character in the entire Western juridical edifice. The general system, or at least the general organization of the Western juridical system, was all about the king: the king, his rights, his power, and the possible limits of his power. That, basically, is what the general system, or at least the general organization, of the Western juridical system is all about. No matter whether the jurists were the king's servants or his adversaries, the great edifices of juridical thought and juridical knowledge were always about royal power.

It was all about royal power in two senses. Either it had to be demonstrated that royal power was invested in a juridical armature, that the monarch was indeed the living body of sovereignty, and that his power, even when absolute, was perfectly in keeping with a basic right; or it had to be demonstrated that the power of the sovereign had to be limited, that it had to submit to certain rules, and that, if that power were to retain its legitimacy, it had to be exercised within certain limits. From the Middle Ages onward, the essential role of the theory of right has been to establish the legitimacy of power; the major or central problem around which the theory of right is organized is the problem of sovereignty. To say that the problem of sovereignty is the central problem of right in Western societies means that the essential function of the technique and discourse of right is to dissolve the element of domination in power and to replace that domination, which has to be reduced or masked, with two things: the legitimate rights of the sovereign on the one hand, and the legal obligation to obey on the other. The system of right is completely centered on the king; it is, in other words, ultimately an elimination of domination and its consequences.

In previous years when we were talking about the various little things I have mentioned, the general project was, basically, to invert the general direction of the analysis that has, I think, been the entire

14 ] anuar_y 1976


discourse of right ever since the Middle Ages. I have been trying to do the opposite, or in other words to stress the fact of domination in all its brutality and its secrecy, and then to show not only that right is an instrument of that domination-that is self-evident-but also how, to what extent, and in what form right (and when I say right, I am not thinking just of the law, but of all the apparatuses, institutions, and rules that apply it) serves as a vehicle for and implements relations that are not relations of sovereignty, but relations of domination. And by domination I do not mean the brute fact of the domination of the one over the many, or of one group over another, but the multiple forms of domination that can be exercised in society; so, not the king in his central position, but subjects in their reciprocal relations; not sovereignty in its one edifice, but the multiple subjugations that take place and function within the social body.

The system of right and the judiciary field are permanent vehicles for relations of domination, and for polymorphous techniques of subjugation. Right must, I think, be viewed not in terms of a legitimacy

i that has to be established, but in terms of the procedures of subjugation it implements. As I see it, we have to bypass or get around the problem of sovereignty-which is central to the theory of rightand the obedience of individuals who submit to it, and to reveal the problem of domination and subjugation instead of sovereignty and subjugation. Having said that, a certain number of methodological precautions had to be taken in order to follow this line, which was an attempt to bypass or deviate from the general line of the juridical analysis.

Methodological precautions. Our object is not to analyze rulegoverned and legitimate forms of power which have a single center, or to look at what their general mechanisms or its overall effects might be. Our object is, on the contrary, to understand power by looking at its extremities, at its outer limits at the point where it becomes

capillary; in other words, to understand power in its most regional forms and institutions, and especially at the points where this power transgresses the rules of right that organize and delineate it, oversteps those rules and is invested in institutions, is embodied in techniques



and acquires the material means to intervene, sometimes in violent ways. We can take an example if you like: rather than trying to see where and how the power to punish finds its basis in the sovereignty, as described by philosophy, of either monarchical right or democratic right, I tried to look at how the power to punish was embodied in a certain number of local, regional, and material institutions, such as torture or imprisonment, and to look at the simultaneously institutional, physical, regulatory, and violent world of the actual apparatuses of punishment. I tried, in other words, to understand power by looking at its extremities, at where its exercise became less and less juridicial. That was my first precaution.

Second precaution: My goal was not to analyze power at the level of intentions or decisions, not to try to approach it from inside, and not to ask the question (which leads us, I think, into a labyrinth from which there is no way out): So who has power? What is going on in his head? And what is he trying to do, this man who has power? The goal was, on the contrary, to study power at the point where his intentions-if, that is, any intention is involved-are completely invested in real and eHective practices; to study power by looking, as it were, at its external face, at the point where it relates directly and immediately to what we might, very provisionally, call its object, its target, its field of application, or, in other words, the places where it implants itself and produces its real effects. So the question is not:

Why do some people want to be dominant? What do they want? What is their overall strategy? The question is this: What happens at the moment of, at the level of the procedure of subjugation, or in the continuous and uninterrupted processes that subjugate bodies, direct gestures, and regulate forms of behavior? In other words, rather than asking ourselves what the sovereign looks like from on high, we should be trying to discover how multiple bodies, forces, energies, matters, desires, thoughts, and so on are gradually, progressively, actually and materially constituted as subjects, or as the subject. To grasp the material agency of subjugation insofar as it constitutes subjects would, if you like, be to do precisely the opposite of what Hobbes was trying to do in Leviathan.' Ultimately, I think that all

14 Jan u a ry 19 7 6


jurists try to do the same thing, as their problem is to discover how a multiplicity of individuals and wills can be shaped into a single will or even a single body that is supposedly animated by a soul known as sovereignty. Remember the schema of Leoiathan:' In this schema, the Leviathan, being an artificial man, is no more than the coagulation of a certain number of distinct individualities that find themselves united by a certain number of the State's constituent elements. But at the heart, or rather the head, of the State, there is something that constitutes it as such, and that something is sovereignty, which Hobbes specifically describes as the soul of the Leviathan. Well, rather than raising this problem of the central soul, I think we should be trying-and this is what I have been trying to do-to study the multiple peripheral bodies, the bodies that are constituted as subjects by power-effects.

Third methodological precaution: Do not regard power as a phenomenon of mass and homogeneous domination-the domination of one individual over others, of one group over others, or of one class over others; keep it clearly in mind that unless we are looking at it from a great height and from a very great distance, power is not something that is divided between those who have it and hold it exclusively, and those who do not have it and are subject to it. Power must, I think, be analyzed as something that circulates, or rather as something that functions only when it is part of a chain. It is never localized here or there, it is never in the hands of some, and it is never appropriated in the way that wealth or a commodity can be appropriated. Power functions. Power is exercised through networks, and individuals do not simply circulate in those networks; they are in a position to both submit to and exercise this power. They are never the inert or consenting targets of power; they are always its relays. In other words, power passes through individuals. It is not applied to them.

It is therefore, I think, a mistake to think of the individual as a sort of elementary nucleus, a primitive atom or some multiple, inert matter to which power is applied, or which is struck by a power that subordinates or destroys individuals. In actual fact, one of the first



effects of power is that it allows bodies, gestures, discourses, and desires to be identified and constituted as something individual. The individual is not, in other words, power's opposite number; the in" dividual is one of power's first effects. The individual is in fact a power-effect, and at the same time, and to the extent that he is a power-effect, the individual is a relay: power passes through the individuals it has constituted.

Fourth implication at the level of methodological precautions:

When I say, "Power is exercised, circulates, and forms networks," this might be true up to a certain point. We can also say, "We all have some element of fascism inside our heads," or, at a more basic level still, "We all have some element of power in our bodies." And power does-at least to some extent-pass or migrate through our bodies. We can indeed say all that, but I do not think that we therefore have to conclude that power is the best-distributed thing, the most widely distributed thing, in the world, even though this is, up to a point, the case. Power is not distributed throughout the body in democratic or anarch ic fashion. What I mean is this: it seems to me-and this win be our fourth methodological precaution-it is important not to, so to speak, deduce power by beginning at the center and trying to see how far down it goes, or to what extent it is reproduced or renewed in the most atomistic elements of society. I think that, on the contrary-and this is a methodological precaution that has to be taken-we should make an ascending analysis of power, or in other words begin with its infinitesimal mechanisms, which have their own history, their own trajectory, their own techniques and tactics, and then look at how these mechanisms of power, which have their solidity and, in a sense, their own technology, have been and are invested, colonized, used, inflected, transformed, displaced, extended, and so on by increasingly general mechanisms and forms of overall domination. Overall domination is not something that is pluralized and then has repercussions down below. I think we have to analyze the way in which the phenomena, techniques, and procedures of power come into play at the lowest levels; we have to show, obviously, how these procedures are displaced, extended, and modified and,

14 [ a n u a ry 1976


above all, how they are invested or annexed by global phenomena, and how more general powers or economic benefits can slip into the play of these technologies of power, which are at once relatively autonomous and infinitesimal.

To make things clearer, I will take the example of madness. We could say this, we could make the descending analysis we have to distrust. We could say that from the late sixteenth century or the seventeenth century onward, the bourgeoisie became the ruling class. Having said that, how can we deduce that the mad will be confined? You can certainly make that deduction; it is always easy, and that is precisely what I hold against it. It is in fact easy to show how, because the mad are obviously of no use to industrial production, they have to be got rid of. We could, if you like, say the same thing, not about the madman this time, but about infantile sexuality-and a number of people have done so: Wilhelm Reich' does so up to a point, and Reimut Reich certainly does so.' We could ask how the rule of the bourgeoisie allows us to understand the repression of infantile sexuality. Well, it's quite simple: from the seventeenth or eighteenth century onward, the human body essentially became a productive force, and all forms of expenditure that could not be reduced to these relations, or to the constitution of the productive forces, all forms of expenditure that could be shown to be unproductive, were banished, excluded, and repressed. Such deductions are always possible; they are both true and false. They are essentially too facile, because we can say precisely the opposite. We can deduce from the principle that the bourgeoisie became a ruling class that controlling sexuality, and infantile sexuality, is not absolutely desirable. We can reach the opposite conclusion and say that what is needed is a sexual apprenticeship, sexual training, sexual precocity, to the extent that the goal is to use sexuality to reproduce a labor force, and it is well known that, at least in the early nineteenth century, it was believed that the optimal labor force was an infinite labor force: the greater the labor force, the greater the capitalist system of production's ability to function fully and efficiently.

I think that we can deduce whatever we like from the general



phenomenon of the domination of the bourgeois class. It seems to me that we should be doing quite the opposite, or in other words looking in historical terms, and from below, at how control mechanisms could come into play in terms of the exclusion of madness, or the repression and suppression of sexuality; at how these phenomena of repression or exclusion found their instruments and their logic, and met a certain number of needs at the actual level of the family and its immediate entourage, or in the cells or the lowest levels of society. We should be showing what their agents were, and we should be looking for those agents not in the bourgeoisie in general, but in the real agents that exist in the immediate entourage: the family, parents, doctors, the lowest levels of the police, and so on. And we should be looking at how, at a given moment, in a specific conjuncture and subject to a certain number of transformations, these power-mechanisms began to become economically profitable and politically useful. And I think we could easily succeed in demonstrating-and this is, after all, what I have tried to do on a number of occasions in the past-that, basically, what the bourgeoisie needed, and the reason why the system ultimately proved to work to its advantage, was not that the mad had to be excluded or that childhood masturbation had to be controlled or forbidden-the bourgeois system can, I repeat, quite easily tolerate the opposite of this. What did prove to be in its interest, and what it did invest, was not the fact that they were excluded, but the technique and procedures of their exclusion. It was the mechanisms of exclusion, the surveillance apparatus, the medicalization of sexuality, madness, and delinquency, it was all that, or in other words the micromechanics of power that came at a certain moment to represent, to constitute the interest of the bourgeoisie. That is what the bourgeoisie was interested in.

To put it another way: to the extent that these notions of "the bourgeoisie" and "the interests of the bourgeoisie" probably have no content, or at least not in terms of the problems we have just raised, what we have to realize is precisely that there was no such thing as a bourgeoisie that thought that madness should be excluded or that infantile sexuality had to be repressed; but there were mechanisms to

14Janua,_y 1976


exclude madness and techniques to keep infantile sexuality under surveillance. At a given moment, and for reasons that have to be studied, they generated a certain economic profit, a certain political utility, and they were therefore colonized and supported by global mechanisms and, finally, by the entire system of the State. If we concentrate on the techniques of power and show the economic profit or political utility that can be derived from them, in a certain context and for certain reasons, then we can understand how these mechanisms actually and eventually became part of the whole. In other words, the bourgeoisie doesn't give a damn about the mad, but from the nineteenth century onward and subject to certain transformations, the procedures used to exclude the mad produced or generated a political profit, or even a certain economic utility. They consolidated the system and helped it to function as a whole. The bourgeoisie is not interested in the mad, but it is interested in power over the mad; the bourgeoisie is not interested in the sexuality of children, but it is interested in the system of power that controls the sexuality of children. The bourgeoisie does not give a damn about delinquents, or about how they are punished or rehabilitated, as that is of no great economic interest. On the other hand, the set of mechanisms whereby delinquents are controlled, kept track of, punished, and reformed does generate a bourgeois interest that functions within the economicopolitical system as a whole. That is the fourth precaution, the fourth methodological line I wanted to follow.

Fifth precaution: It is quite possible that ideological production did coexist with the great machineries of power. There was no doubt an ideology of education, an ideology of monarchical power, an ideology of parliamentary democracy, and so on. But I do not think that it is ideologies that are shaped at the base, at the point where the networks of power culminate. It is much less and much more than that. It is the actual instruments that form and accumulate knowledge, the observational methods, the recording techniques, the investigative research procedures, the verification mechanisms. That is, the delicate mechanisms of power cannot function unless knowledge, or rather knowledge apparatuses, are formed, organized, and put into



circulation, and those apparatuses are not ideological tnmmmgs or edifices.

To sum up these five methodological precautions, let me say that rather than orienting our research into power toward the juridical edifice of sovereignty, State apparatuses, and the ideologies that accompany them, I think we should orient our analysis of power toward material operations, forms of subjugation, and the connections among and the uses made of the local systems of subjugation on the one hand, and apparatuses of knowledge on the other.

In short, we have to abandon the model of Leviathan, that model of an artificial man who is at once an automaton, a fabricated man, but also a unitary man who contains all real individuals, whose body is made up of citizens but whose soul is sovereignty. We have to study power outside the model of Leviathan, outside the field delineated by juridical sovereignty and the institution of the State. We have to analyze it by beginning with the techniques and tactics of domination. That, I think, is the methodological line we have to follow, and which I have tried to follow in the different research projects we have undertaken in previous years on psychiatric power, infantile sexuality, the punitive system, and so on.

Now if we look at this domain and take these methodological precautions, I think that one massive historical fact emerges, and that it will help to provide us with an introduction to the problem I wish to talk about from now onward. The massive historical fact is this:

The juridico-political theory of sovereignty-the theory we have to get away from if we want to analyze power-dates from the Middle Ages. It dates from the reactivation of Roman law and is constituted around the problem of the monarch and the monarchy. And I believe that, in historical terms, this theory of sovereignty-which is the great trap we are in danger of falling into when we try to analyze powerplayed tour roles.

First, it referred to an actual power mechanism: that of the feudal monarchy. Second, it was used as an instrument to constitute and justify the great monarchical administrations. From the sixteenth and especially the seventeenth century onward, or at the time of the Wars

14}anuar_y 1976

of Religion, the theory of sovereignty then became a weapon that was in circulation on both sides, and it was used both to restrict and to strengthen royal power. You find it in the hands of Catholic monarchists and Protestant anti monarchists; you also find it in the hands of more or less liberal Protestant monarchists; you also find it in the hands of Catholics who advocate regicide or a change of dynasty. You find this theory of sovereignty being brought into play by aristocrats and parlementaires? by the representatives of royal power and by the last feudalists. It was, in a word, the great instrument of the political and theoretical struggles that took place around systems of power in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the eighteenth century, finally, you find the same theory of sovereignty, the same reactivation of Roman law, in the work of Rousseau and his contemporaries, but it now played a fourth and different role; at this point in time, its role was to construct an alternative model to authoritarian or absolute monarchical administration: that of the parliamentary democracies. And it went on playing that role until the time of the Revolution.

It seems to me that if we look at these four roles, we find that, so long as feudal-type societies survived, the problems dealt with by the theory of sovereignty, or to which it referred, were actually coextensive with the general mechanics of power, or the way power was exercised from the highest to the lowest levels. In other words, the relationship of sovereignty, understood in both the broad and the narrow sense, was, in short, coextensive with the entire social body. And the way in which power was exercised could indeed be transcribed, at least in its essentials, in terms of the sovereign/subject relationshi p.

Now, an important phenomenon occurred in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: the appearance-one should say the inventionof a new mechanism of power which had very specific procedures, completely new instruments, and very different equipment. It was, I believe, absolutely incompatible with relations of sovereignty. This new mechanism of power applies primarily to bodies and what they do rather than to the land and what it produces. It was a mechanism of power that made it possible to extract time and labor, rather than



commodities and wealth, from bodies. It was a type of power that was exercised through constant surveillance and not in discontinuous fashion through chronologically defined systems of taxation and obligation. It was a type of power that presupposed a closely meshed grid of material coercions rather than the physical existence of a sovereign, and it therefore defined a new economy of power based upon the principle that there had to be an increase both in the subjugated forces and in the force and efficacy of that which subjugated them.

It seems to me that this type of power is the exact, point-for-point opposite of the mechanics of power that the theory of sovereignty described or tried to transcribe. The theory of sovereignty is bound up with a form of power that is exercised over the land and the produce of the land, much more so than over bodies and what they do. [This theory] concerns power's displacement and appropriation not of time and labor, but of goods and wealth. This makes it possible to transcribe, into juridical terms, discontinuous obligations and tax records, but not to code continuous surveillance; it is a theory that makes it possible to found absolute power around and on the basis of the physical existence of the sovereign, but not continuous and permanent systems of surveillance. The theory of sovereignty is, if you like, a theory which can found absolute power on the absolute expenditure of power, but which cannot calculate power with minimum expenditure and maximum efficiency. This new type of power, which can therefore no longer be transcribed in terms of sovereignty, is, I believe, one of bourgeois society's great inventions. It was one of the basic tools for the establishment of industrial capitalism and the corresponding type of society. This nonsovereign power, which is foreign to the form of sovereignty, is "disciplinary" power. This power cannot be described or justified in terms of the theory of sovereignty. It is radically heterogeneous and should logically have led to the complete disappearance of the great juridical edifice of the theory of sovereignty. In fact, the theory of sovereignty not only continued to exist as, if you like, an ideology of right; it also continued to organize the juridical codes that nineteenth-century Europe adopted after the Napoleonic codes." Why did the theory of sovereignty live on in this way

1 4 Jan u a ry 1 976


as an ideology and as the organizing principle behind the great juridical codes?

I think there are two reasons. On the one hand, the theory of sovereignty was, in the seventeenth century and even the nineteenth century, a permanent critical instrument to be used against the monarchy and all the obstacles that stood in the way of the development of the disciplinary society. On the other hand, this theory, and the organization of a juridical code centered upon it, made it possible to superimpose on the mechanism of discipline a system of right that concealed its mechanisms and erased the element of domination and the techniques of domination involved in discipline, and which, finally, guaranteed that everyone could exercise his or her own sovereign rights thanks to the sovereignty of the State. In other words, juridical systems, no matter whether they were theories or codes, allowed the democratization of sovereignty, and the establishment of a public right articulated with collective sovereignty, at the very time when, to the extent that, and because the democratization of sovereignty was heavily ballasted by the mechanisms of disciplinary coercion. To put it in more condensed terms, one might say that once disciplinary constraints had to both function as mechanisms of domination and be concealed to the extent that they were the mode in which power was actually exercised, the theory of sovereignty had to find expression in the juridical apparatus and had to be reactivated or complemented by judicial codes.

From the nineteenth century until the present day, we have then in modern societies, on the one hand, a legislation, a discourse, and an organization of public right articulated around the principle of the sovereignty of the social body and the delegation of individual sovereignty to the State; and we also have a tight grid of disciplinary coercions that actually guarantees the cohesion of that social body. Now that gr~d cannot in any way be transcribed in right, even though the two necessarily go together. A right of sovereignty and a mechanics of discipline. It is, I think, between these two limits that power is exercised. The two limits are, however, of such a kind and so heterogeneous that we can never reduce one to the other. In mod-



ern societies, power is exercised through, on the basis of, and in the very play of the heterogeneity between a public right of sovereignty and a polymorphous mechanics of discipline. This is not to say that you have, on the one hand, a garrulous and explicit system of right, and on the other hand, obscure silent disciplines that operate down below, in the shadows, and which constitute the silent basement of the great mechanics of power. Disciplines in fact have their own discourse. They do, for the reasons I was telling you about a moment ago, create apparatuses of knowledge, know ledges and multiple fields of expertise. They are extraordinarily inventive when it comes to creating apparatuses to shape knowledge and expertise, and they do support a discourse, but it is a discourse that cannot be the discourse of right or a juridical discourse. The discourse of discipline is alien to that of the law; it is alien to the discourse that makes rules a product of the will of the sovereign. The discourse of disciplines is about a rule: not a juridical rule derived from sovereignty, but a discourse about a natural rule, or in other words a norm. Disciplines will define not a code of law, but a code of normalization, and they will necessarily refer to a theoretical horizon that is not the edifice of law, but the field of the human sciences. And the jurisprudence of these disciplines will be that of a clinical knowledge.

In short, what I have been trying to show over the last few years is certainly not how, as the front of the exact sciences advances, the uncertain, difficult, and confused domain of human behavior is gradually annexed by science: the gradual constitution of the human sciences is not the result of an increased rationality on the part of the exact sciences. I think that the process that has made possible the discourse of the human sciences is the juxtaposition of, the confrontation between, two mechanisms and two types of discourse that are absolutely heterogeneous: on the one hand, the organization of right around sovereignty, and on the other, the mechanics of the coercions exercised by disciplines. In our day, it is the fact that power is exercised through both right and disciplines, that the techniques of discipline and discourses born of discipline are invading right, and that normalizing procedures are increasingly colonizing the proce-

74 Jan u a ry 1 9 76


dures of the law, that might explain the overall workings of what I would call a "normalizing society."

To be more specific, what I mean is this: I think that normalization, that disciplinary normalizations, are increasingly in conflict with the juridical system of sovereignty; the incompatibility of the two is increasingly apparent; there is a greater and greater need for a sort of arbitrating discourse, for a sort of power and knowledge that has been rendered neutral because its scientiticity has become sacred. And it is precisely in the expansion of medicine that we are seeing-I wouldn't call it a combination of, a reduction of-but a perpetual exchange or confrontation between the mechanics of discipline and the principle of right. The development of medicine, the general medicalization of behavior, modes of conduct, discourses, desires, and so on, is taking place on the front where the heterogeneous layers of discipline and sovereignty meet.

That is why we now find ourselves in a situation where the only existing and apparently solid recourse we have against the usurpations of disciplinary mechanics and against the rise of a power that is bound up with scientific knowledge is precisely a recourse or a return to a right that is organized around sovereignty, or that is articulated on that old principle. Which means in concrete terms that when we want to make some objection against disciplines and all the knowledgeeffects and power-effects that are bound up with them, what do we do in concrete terms? What do we do in real life? What do the Syndicat de la magistrature and other institutions like it do? What do we do? We obviously invoke right, the famous old formal, bourgeois right. And it is in reality the right of sovereignty. And I think that at this point we are in a sort of bottleneck, that we cannot go on working like this forever; having recourse to sovereignty against discipline will not enable us to limit the effects of disciplinary power.

Sovereignty and discipline, legislation, the right of sovereignty and disciplinary mechanics are in fact the two things that constitute-in an absolute sense-the general mechanisms of power in our society. Truth to tell, if we are to struggle against disciplines, or rather against disciplinary power, in our search for a nondisciplinary power, we




should not be turning to the old right of sovereignty; we should be looking for a new right that is both antidisciplinary and emancipated from the principle of sovereignty.

At this point we come back to the notion of "repression." I may talk to you about that next time, unless I have had enough of repeating things that have already been said, and move on immediately to other things to do with war. If I feel like it and if I can be bothered to, I will talk to you about the notion of "repression," which has, I think, the twofold disadvantage, in the use that is made of it, of making obscure reference to a certain theory of sovereignty-the theory of the sovereign rights of the individual-and of bringing into play, when it is used, a whole set of psychological references borrowed from the human sciences, or in other words from discourses and practices that relate to the disciplinary domain. I think that the notion of "repression" is still, whatever critical use we try to make of it, a juridico-disciplinary notion; and to that extent the critical use of the notion of "repression" is tainted, spoiled, and rotten from the outset because it implies both a juridical reference to sovereignty and a disciplinary reference to normalization. Next time, I will either talk to you about repression or move on to the problem of war.

, .~I

~ I, I


14 [un u arv 1976


1. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, or the Malter, Forme and Power of a Common-Wealth Ealesiasticall and Civill (London, 1651). The Latin translation of the text, which was m [act a new VerSIOn, was published in Amsterdam in 1668.

2. Foucault is alluding to the famous [rontispiece to the "Head" edition of Leviathan published by Andrew Crooke. It depicts the body of a state constituted bv its subjects, with the head representing the sovereign, who holds a sword m one hand and a crosier m the other. The basic attributes of civil and ecclesiastical power are depicted below it.

3. Wilhelm ReICh, Der Einbruc]: der Sexualmoral,

4. Reimut Reich, Sexualitdt und Klassenkamp]: {Yr Abwehr repressiuer Ensublimienmg ( Frankfurt am Mam: Verlag Neue Kritik, 1(68) (French translation: Sexualite et lutte de clam [Pans:

Masper o, 1969 D.

5. The thirteen parlements of the Ancien Regune were high courts of appeal and had no legislative powers, though the parlement de Paris did attempt to usurp such powers. [Trans.]

6. The reference is to the "Napoleonic codes," or m other words the Code CIvil of 1804, the Code d'mstrucuon criminelle of 1808, and the Code penal of 1810.


21 JANUARY 1976

Theory of sovereignty and operators of domination. - War as analy'{f!r of power relations. - The binary structure of society. - Historico-political discourse, the discourse of perpetual war. - The dialectic and its codificatlons. - The discourse of race struggle and its transcriptions.

, ' ..

i .~

LAST TIME, WE SAID a sort of farewell to the theory of sovereignty insofar as it could-and can-be described as a method for analyzing power relations. I would like to show you that the juridical model of sovereignty was not, I believe, able to provide a concrete analysis of the multiplicity of power relations. In fact, it seems to me-to sum it all up in a few words, in three words to be precise-that the theory of sovereignty necessarily tries to establish what I would call a cyclethe subject-to-subject cycle-and to show how a subject-understood as meaning an individual who is naturally endowed (or endowed by nature) with rights, capabilities, and so on-can and must become a subject, this time in the sense of an element that is subjectified in a power relationship. Sovereignty is the theory that goes from subject to subject, that establishes the political relationship between subject and subject. Second, it seems to me that the theory of sovereignty assumes from the outset the existence of a multiplicity of powers that are not powers in the political sense of the term; they are capacities, possibilities, potentials, and it can constitute them as powers in the political sense of the term only if it has in the meantime established



a moment of fundamental and foundational unity between possibilities and powers, namely the unity of power. Whether this unity of power takes on the face of the monarch or the form of the State is irrelevant; the various forms, aspects, mechanisms, and institutions of power will be derived from this unitary power. The multiplicity of powers, in the sense of political powers, can be established and can function only on the basis of this unitary power, which is founded by the theory of sovereignty. Third and finally, it seems to me that the theory of sovereignty shows, or attempts to show, how a power can be constituted, not exactly in accordance with the law, but in accordance with a certain basic legitimacy that is more basic than any law and that allows laws to function as such. The theory of sovereignty is, in other words, the subject-to-subject cycle, the cycle of power and powers, and the cycle of legitimacy and law. So we can say that in one way or another-and depending, obviously, upon the different theoretical schemata in which it is deployed-the theory of sovereignty presupposes the subject; its goal is to establish the essential unity of power, and it is always deployed within the preexisting element of the law. It therefore assumes the existence of three "primitive" elements: a subject who has to be subjectified, the unity of the power that has to be founded, and the legitimacy that has to be respected. Subject, unitary power, and law: the theory of sovereignty comes into play, I think, among these elements, and it both takes them as given and tries to found them. My project-which I immediately abandonedwas to show you how the instrument that politico-psychological analysis acquired almost three or four hundred years ago, or in other words the notion of repression-which does look, rather, as though it was borrowed from Freudianism or Freudo- Marxism-was in fact inscribed in an interpretation of power as sovereignty. To do that would, however, take us back over things that have already been said, so I will move on, though I may come back to this at the end of the year if we have enough time left.

The general project, both in previous vear s and this year, is to trv to release or emancipate this analvsis of power from three assump-

2 I J a II u a ry 1 9 ;' 6

tions-of subject, unity, and law-and to bring out, rather than these basic elements of sovereignty, what I would call relations or operators of domination. Rather than deriving powers from sovereignty, we should be extracting operators of domination from relations of power, both historically and empirically. A theory of domination, of dominations, rather than a theory of sovereignty: this means that rather than starting with the subject (or even subjects) and elements that exist prior to the relationship and that can be localized, we begin with the power relationship itself, with the actual or effective relationship of domination, and see how that relationship itself determines the elements to which it is applied. We should not, therefore, be asking subjects how, why, and by what right they can agree to being subjugated, but showing how actual relations of subjugation manufacture subjects. Our second task should be to reveal relations of domination, and to allow them to assert themselves in their multiplicity, their differences, their specificity, or their reversibility; we should not be looking for a sort of sovereignty from which powers spring, but showing how the various operators of domination support one another, relate to one another, at how they converge and reinforce one another in some cases, and negate or strive to annul one another in other cases. I am obviously not saying that great apparatuses of power do not exist, or that we can neither get at them nor describe them. But I do think that they always function on the basis of these apparatuses of domination. To put it in more concrete terms, we can obviously describe a given society's school apparatus or its set of educational apparatuses, but I think that we can analyze them effectively only if we do not see them as an overall unity, only if we do not try to derive them from something like the Statist unity of sovereignty. We can analyze them only if we try to see how they interact, how they support one another, and how this apparatus defines a certain number of global strategies on the basis of multiple subjugations (of child to adult, progeny to parents, ignorance to knowledge, apprentice to master, family to administration, and so on). All these mechanisms and operators of domination are the actual plinth of the global ap-


paratus that is the school apparatus. So, if you like, we have to see the structures of power as global strategies that traverse and use local tactics of domination.

Third and finally, revealing relations of domination rather than the source of sovereignty means this: We do not try to trace their origins back to that which gives them their basic legitimacy. We have to try, on the contrary, to identify the technical instruments that guarantee that they function. So to sum up and to, if not settle the issue for the moment, at least clarify it somewhat: Rather than looking at the three prerequisites of law, unity, and subject-which make sovereignty both the source of power and the basis of institutions-I think that we have to adopt the threefold point of view of the techniques, the heterogeneity of techniques, and the subjugation-effects that make technologies of domination the real fabric of both power relations and the great apparatuses of power. The manufacture of subjects rather than the genesis of the sovereign: that is our general theme. But while it is quite clear that relations of domination provide the access road that leads to the analysis of power, how can we analyze these relations of domination? While it is true that we should be studying domination and not sovereignty, or rather that we should be studying dominations and operators of domination, how can we pursue our analysis of relations of domination? To what extent can a relationship of domination boil down to or be reduced to the notion of a relationship of force? To what extent and how can the relationship of force be reduced to a relationship of war?

That is, so to speak, the preliminary question I would like to look at a bit this year: Can war really provide a valid analysis of power relations, and can it act as a matrix for techniques of domination? You might say to me that we cannot, from the outset, confuse power relations with relations of war. Of course not. I am simply taking an extreme lease] to the extent that war can be regarded as the point of maximum tension, or as force-relations laid bare. Is the power relationship basically a relationship of confrontation, a struggle to the death, or a war? If we look beneath peace, order, wealth, and authority, beneath the calm order of subordinations, beneath the State

21 January 1976


and State apparatuses, beneath the laws, and so on, will we hear and discover a sort of primitive and permanent war? I would like to begin by asking this question, not forgetting that we will also have to raise a whole series of other questions. I will try to deal with them in years to come. As a first approximation, we can simply say that they include the following questions. Can the phenomenon of war be regarded as primary with respect to other relations (relations of inequality, dissymmetries, divisions of labor, relations of exploitation, et cetera)? Must it be regarded as primary? Can we and must we group together in the general mechanism, the general form, known as war, phenomena such as antagonism, rivalry, confrontation, and struggles between individuals, groups, or classes? We might also ask whether notions derived from what was known in the eighteenth century and even the nineteenth century as the art of war (strategy, tactics, et cetera) constitute in themselves a valid and adequate instrument for the analysis of power relations. We could, and must, also ask ourselves if military institutions, and the practices that surround them-and in more general terms all the techniques that are used to fight a warare, whichever way we look at them, directly or indirectly, the nucleus of political institutions. And finally, the first question I would like to study this year is this: How, when, and why was it noticed or imagined that what is going on beneath and in power relations is a war? When, how, and why did someone come up with the idea that it is a sort of uninterrupted battle that shapes peace, and that the civil order-its basis, its essence, its essential mechanisms-is basically an order of battle? Who came up with the idea that the civil order is an order of battle? [ ... ] Who saw war just beneath the surface of peace; who sought in the noise and confusion of war, in the mud of battles, the principle that allows us to understand order, the State, its institutions, and its history?

That, then, is the question I am going to pursue a bit in coming lectures, and perhaps for the rest of the year. Basically, the question can be put very simply, and that is how I began to put it myself:

Who, basically, had the idea of inverting Clausewitz's principle, and who thought of saying: "It is quite possible that war is the continu-



at ion of politics by other means, but isn't politics itself a continuation of war by other means?" Now I think that the problem is not so much who inverted Clausewitz's principle as it is the question of the principle Clausewitz inverted, or rather of who formulated the principle Clausewitz inverted when he said: "But, after all, war is no more than a continuation of politics." I in fact think-and will attempt to prove-that the principle that war is a continuation of politics by other means was a principle that existed long before Clausewitz, who simply inverted a sort of thesis that had been in circulation since the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and which was both diffuse and specific.

So: Politics is the continuation of war by other means. This thesisand the very existence of this thesis, which predates Clausewitzcontains a sort of historical paradox. We can indeed say, schematically and somewhat crudely, that with the growth and development of States throughout the Middle Ages and up to the threshold of the modern era, we see the practices and institutions of war undergoing a marked, very visible change, which can be characterized thus: The practices and institutions of war were initially concentrated in the hand of a central power; it gradually transpired that in both de facto and de jure terms, only State powers could wage wars and manipulate the instruments of war. The State acquired a monopoly on war. The immediate effect of this State monopoly was that what might be called day-to-day warfare, and what was actually called "private warfare," was eradicated from the social body, and from relations among men and relations among groups. Increasingly, wars, the practices of war, and the institutions of war tended to exist, so to speak, only on the frontiers, on the outer limits of the great State units, and only as a violent relationship-s-that actually existed or threatened to existbetween States. But gradually, the entire social body was cleansed of the bellicose relations that had permeated it through and through during the Middle Ages.

So, thanks to the establishment of this State monopoly and to the fact that war was now, so to speak, a practice that functioned only at the outer limits of the State, it tended to become the technical and

21 January 1976

professional prerogative of a carefully defined and controlled military apparatus. This led, broadly speaking, to the emergence of something that did not exist as such in the Middle Ages: the army as institution. It is only at the end of the Middle Ages that we see the emergence of a State endowed with military institutions that replace both the day-to-day and generalized practice of warfare, and a society that was perpetually traversed by relations of war. We will have to come back to this development, but I think we can accept it as at least a first historical hypothesis.

So where is the paradox? The paradox arises at the very moment when this transformation occurs (or perhaps immediately afterward). When war was expelled to the limits of the State, or was both centralized in practice and confined to the frontier, a certain discourse appeared. A new discourse, a strange discourse. It was new, first, because it was, I think, the first historico-political discourse on society, and it was very different from the philosophico-juridical dis-course that had been habitually spoken until then. And the his tori copolitical discourse that appeared at this moment was also a discourse on war, which was understood to be a permanent social relationship, the ineradicable basis of all relations and institutions of power. And what is the date of birth of this historico-political discourse that makes war the basis of social relations? Symptomatically, it seems, I think-and I will try to prove this to you-i-to be after the end of the civil and religious wars of the sixteenth century. The appearance of this discourse is, then, by no means the product of a history or an analysis of the civil wars of the sixteenth century. On the contrary, it was already, if not constituted, at least clearly formulated at the beginning of the great political struggles of seventeenth-century England, at the time of the English bourgeois revolution. We then see it reappear in France at the end of the seventeenth century, at the end of the reign of Louis XIV, and in other political struggles-let us say, the rearguard struggle waged by the French aristocracy against the establishment of the great absolute-administrative monarchy. So you see, the discourse was immediately ambiguous. In England it was one of the instruments used in bourgeois, petit bourgeois-and some-



times popular-struggles and polemics against the absolute monarchy, and it was a tool for political organization. It was also an aristocratic discourse directed against that same monarchy. Those who spoke this discourse often bore names that were at once obscure and heterogeneous. In England we find people such as Edward Coke! or John Lilburne,' who represented popular movements; in France, too, we find names such as those of Boulainvilliers,' Freret," and a gentleman from the Massif Central called the Comte d'Estaing.' The same discourse was then taken up by Sieyes,? but also by Buonarroti,' Augustin Thierry," and Cour tet.? And, finally, you will find it in the racist biologists and eugenicists of the late nineteenth century. It is a sophisticated discourse, a scientific discourse, an erudite discourse spoken by people with dust in their eyes and dust on their fingers, but it is also-as you will see-a discourse that certainly had an immense number of popular and anonymous speakers. What is this discourse saying? Well, I think it is saying this: No matter what philosophico-juridical theory may say, political power does not begin when the war ends. The organization and juridical structure of power, of States, monarchies, and societies, does not emerge when the clash of arms ceases. War has not been averted. War obviously presided over the birth of States: right, peace, and laws were born in the blood and mud of battles. This should not be taken to mean the ideal battles and rivalries dreamed up by philosophers or jurists: we are not talking about some theoretical savagery. The law is not born of nature, and it was not born near the fountains that the first shepherds frequented: the law is born of real battles, victories, massacres, and conquests which can be dated and which have their horrific heroes; the law was born in burning towns and ravaged fields. It was born together with the famous innocents who died at break of day.

This does not, however, mean that society, the law, and the State are like armistices that put an end to wars, or that they are the products of definitive victories. Law is not pacification, for beneath the law, war continues to rage in all the mechanisms of power, even in the most regular. War is the motor behind institutions and order. In the smallest of its cogs, peace is waging a secret war. To put it


21 January 1976



£ i





another way, we have to interpret the war that is going on beneath peace; peace itself is a coded war. Weare therefore at war with one another; a battlefront runs through the whole of society, continuously and permanently, and it is this battlefront that puts us all on one side or the other. There is no such thing as a neutral subject. Weare all inevitably someone's adversary.

A binary structure runs through society. And here you see the emergence of something I will try to come back to, as it is very important. The great pyramidal description that the Middle Ages or philosophico-political theories gave of the social body, the great image of the organism or the human body painted by Hobbes, or even the ternary organization (the three orders) that prevailed in France (and to a certain extent a number of other countries in Europe) and which continued to articulate a certain number of discourses, or in any case most institutions, is being challenged by a binary conception of society. This had happened before, but this is the first time the binary conception has been articulated with a specific history. There are two groups, two categories of individuals, or two armies, and they are opposed to each other. And beneath the lapses of memory, the illusions, and the lies that would have us believe that there is a ternary order, a pyramid of subordinations, beneath the lies that would have us believe that the social body is governed by either natural necessities or functional demands, we must rediscover the war that is still going on, war with all its accidents and incidents. Why do we have to rediscover war? Well, because this ancient war is a [ ... ] permanent war. We really do have to become experts on battles, because the war has not ended, because preparations are still being made for the decisive battles, and because we have to win the decisive battle. In other words, the enemies who face us still pose a threat to us, and it is not some reconciliation or pacification that will allow us to bring the war to an end. It will end only to the extent that we really are the victors.

That is a first, and obviously very vague, characterization of this type of discourse. I think that, even on this basis, we can began to understand why it is important. It is, I think, important because it is

')2 .. SOC I [ T Y MUS T B E. D E. F E. N D ED"

the first discourse in postmedieval Western society that can be strictly described as being historico-political, First because the subject who speaks in this discourse, who says "I" or "we," cannot, and is in fact not trying to, occupy the position of the jurist or the philosopher, or in other words the position of a universal, totalizing, or neutral subject. In the general struggle he is talking about, the person who is speaking, telling the truth, recounting the story, rediscovering memories and trying not to forget anything, well, that person is inevitably on one side or the other: he is involved in the battle, has adversaries. and is working toward a particular victory. Of course, he speaks the discourse of right, asserts a right and demands a right. But what he is demanding and asserting is "his" rights-he says: "We have a right." These are singular rights, and they are strongly marked by a relationship of property, conquest, victory, or nature. It might be the right of his family or race, the right of superiority or seniority, the right of triumphal invasions, or the right of recent or ancient occupations. In all cases, it is a right that is both grounded in history and decentered from a juridical universality. And if this subject who speaks of right (or rather, rights) is speaking the truth, that truth is no longer the universal truth of the philosopher. It is true that this discourse about the general war, this discourse that tries to interpret the war beneath peace, is indeed an attempt to describe the battle as a w hole and to reconstruct the general course of the war. But that does not make it a totalizing or neutral discourse; it is always a perspectival discourse. It is interested in the totality only to the extent that it can see it in one-sided terms, distort it and see it from its own point of view. The truth is, in other words, a truth that can be deployed only from its combat position, from the perspective of the sought for victory and ultimately, so to speak, of the survival of the speaking subject himself.

This discourse established a basic link between relations of force and relations of truth. This also means that the identification of truth with peace or neutrality, or with the median position which, as jeanPierre Vern ant has clearly demonstrated, was, at least from a certain point onward, a constituent element of Greek philosophy, is being

21 January 1976

dissolved. to In a discourse such as this, being on one side and not the other means that you are in a better position to speak the truth. It is the fact of being on one side-the decentered position-that makes it possible to interpret the truth, to denounce the illusions and errors that are being used-by your adversaries-to make you believe we are living in a world in which order and peace have been restored. "The more I decenter myself, the better I can see the truth; the more I accentuate the relationship of force, and the harder I fight, the more effectively I can deploy the truth ahead of me and use it to fight, survive, and win." And conversely, if the relationship of force sets truth free, the truth in its turn will come into play-and will, ultimately, be sought-only insofar as it can indeed become a weapon within the relationship of force. Either the truth makes you stronger, or the truth shifts the balance, accentuates the dissymmetries, and finally gives the victory to one side rather than the other. Truth is an additional force, and it can be deployed only on the basis of a relationship of force. The fact that the truth is essentially part of a relationship of force, of dissymmetry, decentering, combat, and war, is inscribed in this type of discourse. Ever since Greek philosophy, philosophico-juridical discourse has always worked with the assumption of a pacified universality, but it is now being seriously called into question or, quite simply, cynically ignored.

We have a historical and political discourse-and it is in that sense that it is historically anchored and politically decentered-that lays a claim to truth and legitimate right on the basis of a relationship of force, and in order to develop that very relationship of force by therefore excluding the speaking subject-the subject who speaks of right and seeks the truth-from juridico-philosophical universality. The role of the person who is speaking is therefore not the role of the legislator or the philosopher who belongs to neither side, a figure of peace and armistices who occupies the position dreamed of by Solon and that Kant was still dreaming of." Establishing oneself between the adversaries, in the center and above them, imposing one general law on all and founding a reconciliatory order: that is precisely what this is not about. It is, rather, about establishing a right marked



by dissymmetry, establishing a truth bound up with a relationship of force, a truth-weapon and a singular right. The subject who is speaking is-l wouldn't even say a polemical subject-a subject who is fighting a war. This is one of the first points that makes a discourse of this type important, and it certainly introduced a rift into the discourse of truth and law that had been spoken for thousands of years, for over a thousand years.

Second, this is a discourse that inverts the values, the equilibrium, and the traditional polarities of intelligibility, and which posits, demands, an explanation from below. But in this explanation, the "below" is not necessarily what is clearest and simplest. Explaining things from below also means explaining them in terms of what is most confused, most obscure, most disorderly and most subject to chance, because what is being put forward as a principle for the interpretation of society and its visible order is the confusion of violence, passions, hatreds, rages, resentments, and bitterness; and it is the obscurity of contingencies and all the minor incidents that bring about defeats and ensure victories. This discourse is essentially asking the elliptical god of battles to explain the long days of order, labor, peace, and justice. Fury is being asked to explain calm and order.

So what is the principle that explains history?* First, a series of brute facts, which might already be described as physico-biological facts: physical strength, force, energy, the proliferation of one race, the weakness of the other, and so on. A series of accidents, or at least contingencies: defeats, victories, the failure or success of rebellions, the failure or success of conspiracies or alliances; and finally, a bundle of psychological and moral elements ( courage, fear, scorn, hatred, [orgetfulness, et cetera). Intertwining bodies, passions, and accidents: according to this discourse, that is what constitutes the permanent web of history and societies. And something fragile and superficial will be built on top of this web of bodies, accidents, and passions, this seething mass which is sometimes murky and sometimes bloody: a growing rationality. The rationality of calculations, strategies, and


~ r


"The manuscript has "and right."

21 [u n u a rv 1976


ruses; the rationality of technical procedures that are used to perpetuate the victory, to silence, or so it would seem, the war, and to preserve or invert the relationship of force. This is, then, a rationality which, as we move upward and as it develops, will basically be more and more abstract, more and more bound up with fragility and illusions, and also more closely bound up with the cunning and wickedness of those who have won a temporary victory. And given that the relationship of domination works to their advantage, it is certainly not in their interest to call any of this into question.

In this schema, we have, then, an ascending axis which is, I believe, very different, in terms of the values it distributes, from the traditional axis. We have an axis based upon a fundamental and permanent irrationality, a crude and naked irrationality, but which proclaims the truth; and, higher up, we have a fragile rationality, a transitory rationality which is always compromised and bound up with illusion and wickedness. Reason is on the side of wild dreams, cunning, and the wicked. At the opposite end of the axis, you have an elementary brutality: a collection of deeds, acts, and passions, and cynical rage in all its nudity. Truth is therefore on the side of unreason and brutality; reason, on the other hand, is on the side of wild dreams and wickedness. Quite the opposite, then, of the discourse that had until now been used to explain right and history. That discourse's attempts at explanation consisted in extracting from all these superficial and violent accidents, which are linked to error, a basic and permanent rationality which is, by its very essence, bound up with fairness and the good. The explanatory axis of the law and history has, I believe, been inverted.

The third reason why the type of discourse I would like to analyze a bit this year is important is, you see, that it is a discourse that develops completely within the historical dimension. It is deployed within a history that has no boundaries, no end, and no limits. In a discourse like this, the drabness of history cannot be regarded as a superficial given that has to be reordered about a few basic, stable principles. It is not interested in passing judgment on unjust governments, or on crimes and acts of violence, by referring them to a certain


ideal schema (that of natural law, the will of God, basic principles, and so on). On the contrary, it is interested in defining and discovering, beneath the forms of justice that have been instituted, the order that has been imposed, the forgotten past of real struggles, actual victories, and defeats which may have been disguised but which remain profoundly inscribed. It is interested in rediscovering the blood that has dried in the codes, and not, therefore, the absolute right that lies beneath the transience of history; it is interested not in referring the relativity of history to the absolute of the law, but in discovering, beneath the stability of the law or the truth, the indefiniteness of history. It is interested in the battle cries that can be heard beneath the formulas of right, in the dissymmetry of forces that lies beneath the equilibrium of justice. Within a historical field that cannot even be said to be a relative field, as it does not relate to any absolute, it is the indefiniteness of history that is in a sense being "irrelativized." It is the indefiniteness of its eternal, the eternal dissolution into the mechanisms and events known as force, power, and war.

You might think-and this is, I think, another reason why this discourse is important-that this must be a sad, gloomy discourse, a discourse for nostalgic aristocrats or scholars in a library. It is in fact a discourse which has, ever since it began and until very late in the nineteenth century, and even the twentieth, also been supported by very traditional mythical forms, and it is often invested in those forms. This discourse twins subtle knowledge and myths that are-I wouldn't say crude, but they are basic, clumsy, and overloaded. We can, after all, easily see how a discourse of this type can be articulated (and, as you will see, was actually articulated) with a whole mythology: [the lost age of great ancestors, the imminence of new times and a millenary revenge, the coming of the new kingdom that will wipe out the defeats of 0Id].'2 This mythology tells of how the victories of giants have gradually been forgotten and buried, of the twilight of the gods, of how heroes were wounded or died, and of how kings fell asleep in inaccessible caves. We also have the theme of the rights and privileges of the earliest race, which were flouted by cunning invaders, the theme of the war that is still going on in secret, of

21 January 1976 57

the plot that has to be revived so as to rekindle that war and to drive out the invaders or enemies; the theme of the famous battle that will take place tomorrow, that will at last invert the relationship of force, and transform the vanquished into victors who will know and show no mercy. Throughout the whole of the Middle Ages, and even later, the theme of perpetual war will be related to the great, undying hope that the day of revenge is at hand, to the expectation of the emperor of the last years, the dux nov us, the new leader, the new guide, the new Fuhrer; the idea of the fifth monarchy, the third empire or the Third Reich, the man who will be both the beast of the Apocalypse and the savior of the poor. It's the return of Alexander, who got lost in India; the return, expected for so long in England, of Edward the Confessor; it's the two Fredericks=-Barbarossa and Frederick IIwaiting in their caves for their people and their empires to reawaken; it's Charlemagne sleeping in his tomb, and who will wake up to revive the just war; it's the king of Portugal, lost in the sands of Africa, returning for a new battle and a new war which, this time, will lead to a final, definitive victory.

This discourse of perpetual war is therefore not just the sad brainchild of a few intellectuals who were indeed marginalized long ago. It seems to me that, because it bypasses the great philosophicojuridical systems, this discourse is in fact tied up with a knowledge which is sometimes in the possession of a declining aristocracy, with great mythical impulses, and with the ardor of the revenge of the people. In short, this may well be the first exclusively historicopolitical discourse-as opposed to a philosophico-juridical discourseto emerge in the West; it is a discourse in which truth functions exclusively as a weapon that is used to win an exclusively partisan victory. It is a somber, critical discourse, but it is also an intensely mythical discourse; it is a discourse of bitterness [ ... ] but also of the most insane hopes. For philosophers and jurists, it is obviously an external, foreign discourse. It is not even the discourse of their adversary, as they are not in dialogue with it. It is a discourse that is inevitably disqualified, that can and must be kept in the margins, precisely because its negation is the precondition for a true and just



discourse that can at last begin to function-in the middle, between the adversaries, above their heads-as a law. The discourse I am talking about, this partisan discourse, this discourse of war and history, can therefore perhaps take the form of the cunning sophist of the Greek era. Whatever form it takes, it will be denounced as the discourse of a biased and naive historian, a bitter politician, a dispossessed aristocracy, or as an uncouth discourse that puts forward inarticulate demands.

Now this discourse, which was basically or structurally kept in the margins by that of the philosophers and jurists, began its career-or perhaps its new career in the West-in very specific conditions between the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth centuries and represented a twofold-aristocratic and popular-challenge to royal power. From this point onward, I think. it proliferated considerably, and its surface of extension extended rapidly and considerably until the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. It would, however, be a mistake to think that the dialectic can function as the great reconversion of this discourse, or that it can finally convert it into philosophy. The dialectic may at first sight seem to be the discourse of the universal and historical movement of contradiction and war, but I think that it does not in fact validate this discourse in philosophical terms. On the contrary, it seems to me that it had the effect of taking it over and displacing it into the old form of philosophico-juridical discourse. Basically, the dialectic codifies struggle, war, and confrontations into a logic, or socalled logic, of contradiction; it turns them into the twofold process of the totalization and revelation of a rationality that is at once final but also basic, and in any case irreversible. The dialectic, finally, ensures the historical constitution of a universal subject, a reconciled truth, and a right in which all particularities have their ordained place. The Hegelian dialectic and all those that came after it must, I think and as I will try to demonstrate to you, be understood as philosophy and right's colonization and authoritarian colonization of a historico-political discourse that was both a statement of fact, a proclamation, and a practice of social warfare. The dialectic colonized

21 January 1976


a historico-political discourse which, sometimes conspicuously and often in the shadows, sometimes in scholarship and sometimes in blood, had been gaining ground for centuries in Europe. The dialectic is the philosophical order's, and perhaps the political order's, way of colonizing this bitter and partisan discourse of basic warfare. There you have the general frame within which I would like to try this year to retrace the history of this discourse.

I would now like to tell you how we should study this, and what our starting point should be. First of all, we have to get rid of a number of false paternities that are usually mentioned in connection with this his tori co-political discourse. As soon as we begin to think about the power/war relationship or about power/relations of force, two names immediately spring to mind: we think of Machiavelli and we think of Hobbes. I would like to show that they have nothing to do with it, that this historico-political discourse is not, and cannot be, that of the Prince's politics" or, obviously, that of absolute power. It is in fact a discourse that inevitably regards the Prince as an illusion, an instrument, or, at best, an enemy. This is, basically, a discourse that cuts off the king's head, or which at least does without a sovereign and denounces him. Having eliminated these false paternities, I would then like to show you this discourse's point of emergence. And it seems to me that we have to try to situate it in the seventeenth century, which has a number of important characteristics. First, this discourse was born twice. On the one hand, we see it emerging roughly in the 1630s, and in the context of the popular or petit bourgeois demands that were being put forward in prerevolutionary and revolutionary England. It is the discourse of the Puritans, the discourse of the Levellers. And then fifty years later, in France at the end of the reign of Louis XIV, you find it on the opposite side, but it is still the discourse of a struggle against the king, a discourse of aristocratic bitterness. And then, and this is the important point, we find even at this early stage, or in other words from the seventeenth century onward, that the idea that war is the uninterrupted frame of history takes a specific form: The war that is going on beneath order and peace, the war that undermines our society and divides it in a



binary mode is, basically, a race war. At a very early stage, we find the basic elements that make the war possible, and then ensure its continuation, pursuit, and development: ethnic differences, differences between languages, different degrees of force, vigor, energy, and violence; the differences between savagery and barbarism; the conquest and subjugation of one race by another. The social body is basically articulated around two races. It is this idea that this clash between two races runs through society from top to bottom which we see being formulated as early as the seventeenth century. And it forms the matrix for all the forms beneath which we can find the face and mechanisms of social warfare.

I would like to trace the history of this theory of races, or rather of race war, during the French Revolution and especially in the early nineteenth century with Augustin and Amedee Thierry," and to show how it underwent two transcriptions. On the one hand, there was an openly biological transcription, which occurred long before Darwin and which borrowed its discourse, together with all its elements, concepts, and vocabulary, from a materialist anatomo-physiology. It also has the support of philology, and thus gives birth to the theory of races in the historico-biological sense of the term. Once again and almost as in the seventeenth century, this is a very ambiguous theory, and it is articulated with, on the one hand, nationalist movements in Europe and with nationalities' struggles against the great State apparatuses (essentially the Russian and the Austrian); you will then see it articulated with European policies of colonization. That is the first-biological-transcription of the theory of permanent struggle and race struggle. And then you find a second transcription based upon the great theme and theory of social war, which emerges in the very first years of the nineteenth century, and which tends to erase every trace of racial conflict in order to define itself as class struggle. We have, then, a sort of major parting of the ways, which I will try to reconstruct. It corresponds to a recasting of the theme of the analysis of these struggles in the form of the dialectic, and to a recasting of the theme of racial confrontations in terms of the theorv of evolutionism and the struggle for existence. Having established this, and

.: ..


,,, .

. -

2 1 } a n u a roY 1 9 76


placing special emphasis on the latter argument-the biological transcription= l will try to trace the full development of a biologico-social racism. By this, I mean the idea-which is absolutely new and which will make the discourse function very differently-that the other race is basically not the race that came from elsewhere or that was, for a time, triumphant and dominant, but that it is a race that is permanently, ceaselessly infiltrating the social body, or which is, rather, constantly being re-created in and by the social fabric. In other words, what we see as a polarity, as a binary rift within society, is not a clash between two distinct races. It is the splitting of a single race into a superrace and a subrace. To put it a different way, it is the reappearance, within a single race, of the past of that race. In a word, the obverse and the underside of the race reappears within it.

This has one fundamental implication: The discourse of race struggle-which, when it first appeared and began to function in the seventeenth century, was essentially an instrument used in the struggles waged by decentered camps-will be recentered and will become the discourse of power itself. It will become the discourse of a centered, centralized, and centralizing power. It will become the discourse of a battle that has to be waged not between races, but by a race that is portrayed as the one true race, the race that holds power and is entitled to define the norm, and against those who deviate from that norm, against those who pose a threat to the biological heritage. At this point, we have all those biological-racist discourses of degeneracy, but also all those institutions within the social body which make the discourse of race struggle function as a principle of exclusion and segregation and, ultimately, as a way of normalizing society. At this point, the discourse whose history I would like to trace abandons the initial basic formulation, which was "We have to defend ourselves against our enemies because the State apparatuses, the law, and the power structures not only do not defend us against our enemies; they are the instruments our enemies are using to pursue and subjugate us." That discourse now disappears. It is no longer: "We have to defend ourselves against society," but "We have to defend society against all the biological threats posed by the other race, the subrace,


~.; .




the counterrace that we are, despite ourselves, bringing into eXIStence." At this point, the racist thematic is no longer a moment in the struggle between one social group and another; it will promote the global strategy of social conservatisms. At this point-and this is a paradox, given the goals and the first form of the discourse I have been talking about-we see the appearance of a State racism: a racism that society will direct against itself, against its own elements and its own products. This is the internal racism of permanent purification, and it will become one of the basic dimensions of social normalization. This year, I would like to look a little at the history of this discourse of race struggle and war from the seventeenth century to the emergence of State racism in the early nineteenth century.

21 January 1976


1. Edward Coke's most important works are A &ok of Enmes ( London. 1614); Commentaries on Littleton (London. 1628); A Treatise of Bail and MainpriZE (London. 1635); Institutes of the Laws of England (London. vol. 1, 1628; vol. 2. 1642; vols. 3-4. 1644); Reports ( London. vols. 1-11. 1600-1615; vol. 12. 1656; vol. 13.1659). On Coke. see the lecture of 4 February in the present volume.

2. On Lilburne, see the lecture of 4 February in the present volume.

). On H. de Boulainvilliers, see the lectures of 11 February. 18 February. and 25 February in the present volume.

4. Most of Freret's works were first published in the M6noires de I'Acad6n,e des Sciences.

They were subsequently collected in his Oeuvres completes, 20 vols. (Paris. 1796-1799). See. inter alia, De Porigine des Francais et d e lnir etabhssement dans I a Gaule (vol. 5). Recherches histonques sur les moeurs et le gvuvememcnt des Francais, dans les dive" temps de la monarchic (vol. 6). Riflexions sur l'etude des anciennes histoires et sur le degri de certitude de leurs preuves (vol. 7). Vues grn.'rales sur l'ongine et le milang. des anciennes nations et sur la manter. d'en etudier I'h'5toire (vol. 18). and Obseruaaons sur les Merovingiens (vol. 20). On Freret, see the lecture of 18 February in the present volume.

5. Joachim. comte d'Estaing, Disseriation sur la noblesse d'extraction et sur les origines des fiefs, des sumoms et des armoines (Paris. 1690).

6. Foucault's lecture on 10 March. and now in the present volume. is based mainly on E.-J.

Sieves. Qu'est-a que Ie Tiers Dat? (1789). (Cf. the reprinted editions, Paris: PUF. 1982 and Paris: Flarnmarion, 1988.)

7. Cf. F. Buonarroti, Conspiranon pour I'egalite, dite de Babeuf, suivie du profes auquel elle donna lieu et les pieces [ustiauioes, 2 vols. (Brussels. 1828).

8. The historical works by Augustin Thierry referred to by Foucault. particularly in his lecture of 10 March. are as follows: Vues des reuolutions d'Angieterre (Paris. 1917); Histoire de 1£1 conquete de I' Anglet,", par les Normands, de ses causes et de ces suites [usqu 'Q nos joun (Paris, 1825); Lettres sur l'histoire de France pour seroir d'mtroduction a l'etude de cette histoire (Paris. 1827 ); Dix ans d'etudes historiques (Paris. 1834); Refits des temps merovin8'ens, precedes de considerations sur l'histoire de france (Paris. 1834); Essais sur I'h'5toire de la formation et des

progres du Tiers-Etat (Paris. 1853). -

9. See in particular A. V. Courtet de I'Isle. La Science politique Jondie sur 1£1 science de l'homme (Paris, 1837).

10. Cf. J.-P. Verriant, us Origines de la pen;,ee grecque (Paris: PUF, 1965). especially chapters 7 and 8; My the et pensee chez les Crees: Etudes de psychologie h.5tonque (Paris: La Decouverte. 1965). especially chapters 3.4. and 7; My the et societe en G,~ce anaenne (Paris: Seuil, 1974); J.P. Vernant and P. Vidal-Naquet, My the et tragiJie en Crece ancienne-( Paris: La Decouverte, 19(2), particularly chapter 3. English translations: The Qr,g.its of Gree~ Thought (London: Methuen, 1982); Myth and Thought among the Greeks (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. 1982); Myth and Trage~y lit Anoent Greece, tr.Janet Lloyd (New York: Zone Books, 1990).

11. For Solon (see in particular fragment 16 in the Diehl edition). the reader is referred to the analysis of "mesure" made by Michel Foucault in his lectures at the College de France in 1970-1971 on The Will to Knotoled g e, On Kant, the reader is simply referred to "What Is Enlightenment?" trans. Catherine Porter. in Paul Rabinow, ed .• The Foucault Reader (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986), pp. n-50, reprinted with emendations in Ethics: The Essential Works, vol. 1, pp.W3-20 (French original. Dits rt ecrits vol. Ij. pp. 562-84); "Qu'est-ce que les Lumier es?" 0.15 et ecrus vol. 4. pp.679:88 (English translation by Colin Gordon. "Kant on Enlightenment and Revolution." Economv and Society, vol. 15, no. 1 [Pebruary 1986J, pp. 88-96); and the lecture given to the Societe Francaise de Philosophie on 27 May 1978 on "Qu'est-ce que la critique," Bullettit de la Societe' Francaise de Plulmophie. April-June 1990, pp. 35-67; see also I. Kant. Zum Wet'grn Frieden: ein philoso-


phischer Entour] (Konigsberg, 1795; see in particular the second edition of 1796) in WerRe in 'Q""1j Bdnden (Frankfurt am Main: Inse] Verlag, 1968), vol. 11, pp. 191-251; Der Sreti der Fakultiiletl m drei abschnitten (Konigsberg, 1798), ibid., pp. 261-393. (English translation: Perpetual Peace: A Pldlosophicai Sketch and "The Conflict of Faculties," in PolitiJ:al W ni'in8" ed. Hanns Reiss, trans. H. B. Nisbet [Cambridge: Cambndge University Press. 1970]') Foucault owned the complete works of Kant in Ernst Cassirer's 12-volume edition ( Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1912-1922), and Ernst Cassirer's Kents Leben un L£hre (Berlin, N21) (English translation bv Haden James, Kant's Life and Work [New Haven; Yale University Press, 19~n J).

12. The interpolation is based upon the course summarv for the year 1975-1976, in D,1s et ecnts, vol 3. DO. 187, pp.12't-130.

n. On Machiavelli, see the lecture of 1 Februarv 1978 ("Governmentalttv") in the course of lectures given at the College de France on' "Securite territoire et population en 1977- 1978" (English translation; "Governmentality," in Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon. and Peter Miller, eds .. The Foucault Effect: Studies in Couemmentalitv [Heme! Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991]); "Ornnes et Singulatim; Towards a Critique of Political Reason" (1981), in The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, ed. Sterling M. McMurrin, vol. 2 (Salt lake City: Universitv of Utah Press and Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 1981); "The Political Technology of Individuals" ( 1982), Dits et ecnts vol. 3, no. 239, and vol. 'I, no. 219, no. ~6't, in Luther H. Martin, Huck Gutman, and Patrick H. Hucton, eds .. Technologie.< of the Sel]: A Seminar with Michel Foucault (London; Tavistock, 1988).

1'1. On Augustin Thierrv, see note 8 above. For Amedee Thierry, see his Histoires des Caulois depuis les temps I" plus recules jusqu 'd l'entiire soumission de la Gaule a la domination romaine (Paris, 1828); Histoire de la Gaule sous I'admimstranon romaine (Paris, 18'10-18'17).











28 JANUARY 1976

Historical discourse and its supporters. - The counterhistory 0/ race struggle. - Roman history and biblical

history. - Revolutionary discourse. - Birth and transformations of racism. - Race purity and State racism: the Nazi transformation and the Soviet transformation.




YOU MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT, last time, that I was trying to both trace the history of racist discourse and praise it. And you would not have been entirely wrong, except in one respect. It was not exactly racist discourse whose history I was tracing and that I was praising: it was the discourse of race war or race struggle. I think we should reserve the expression "racism" or "racist discourse" for something that was basically no more than a particular and localized episode in the great discourse of race war or race struggle. Racist discourse was really no more than an episode, a phase, the reversal, or at least the reworking, at the end of the nineteenth century, of the discourse of race war. It was a reworking of that old discourse, which at that point was already hundreds of years old, in sociobiological terms, and it was reworked for purposes of social conservatism and, at least in a certain number of cases, colonial domination. Having said that to situate both the link and the difference between racist discourse and the discourse of race war, I was indeed praising the discourse of race war. I was praising it in the sense that I wanted to show you how-at least for a time, or in other words up to the end of the nineteenth



phischer Enwurf (Konigsberg, 1795; see in particular the second edition of 1796) in Werke in '{!!Jail Bdnden (Frankfurt am Main: Insel Verlag, 1968), vol, 11, pp. 191-251; Der Sreti d er Fakultdten in drei abschnitten (Konigsberg, 1798), ibid., pp. 261-393. (English transla tion: Perpetual Peace: A Pblosophica! Sketch and "The Conflict of Faculties," in Pduical Wni'ingJ, ed. Hanns Reiss, trans. H. B. Nisbet [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970]') Foucault owned the complete works of Kant in Ernst Cassirer's 12-volume edition (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1912-1922), and Ernst Cassirer's Kants Leben un Lehre (Berlin, 1921) (English translation by Haden James, Kant's Lje and Work [New Haven:

Yale University Press, 1983 n.

12. The interpolation is based upon the course summary for the year 1975-1976, in Dits e/ ecrus, vol 3, no. 187, pp.124-130.

13. On Machiavelli, see the lecture of 1 February 1978 ("Governmentality") in the course of lectures given at the College de France on "Secur ite territoire et population en 1977- 1978" (English translation: "Governmentality," in Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon, and Peter Miller, eds., The Foucault Effic/: Studies in Govemmentality [Heme! Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991 j); "Omnes et Singulatim: Towards a Critique of Political Reason" (1981), in The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, ed. Sterling M. McMurrin, vol. 2 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981): "The Political Technology of Individuals" ( 1982), Dits et ecrits vol. 3, no. 239, and voL 4, no. 219, no. 364, in Luther H. Martin, Huck Gutman, and Patrick H. Hucton, eds., Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault (London: Tavistock, 1988).

14. On Augustin Thierrv, see note 8 above. For Amedee Thierry, see his Histoires des Gaulois, depuis les temps les plus recules jusqu 'il l'ennere soumission de la Caule il la domina/ion romaine (Paris, 1828); Histoire de la Gaule sous l'ad ministration romaine (Paris, 1840-1847).

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28 JANUARY 1976

Historical discourse and its supporters. - The counterhistory ~f race struggle. - Roman history and biblical

history. - Revolutionary discourse. - Birth and transformanons ~f


. ,





racism. - Race punty and State racism: the Na;;:l tran-formation "

and the Soviet transformation. "-,,, •

YOU MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT, last time, that I was trying to both trace the history of racist discourse and praise it. And you would not have been entirely wrong, except in one respect. It was not exactly racist discourse whose history I was tracing and that I was praising: it was the discourse of race war or race struggle. I think we should reserve the expression "racism" or "racist discourse" for something that was basically no more than a particular and localized episode in the great discourse of race war or race struggle. Racist discourse was really no more than an episode, a phase, the reversal, or at least the reworking, at the end of the nineteenth century, of the discourse of race war. It was a reworking of that old discourse, which at that point was already hundreds of years old, in sociobiological terms, and it was reworked for purposes of social conservatism and, at least in a certain number of cases, colonial domination. Having said that to situate both the link and the difference between racist discourse and the discourse of race war, I was indeed praising the discourse of race war. I was praising it in the sense that I wanted to show you how-at least for a time, or in other words up to the end of the nineteenth



" ':

century, at which point it turned into a racist discourse-this discourse of race war functioned as a counterhistory. And today I would like to say something about its counter historical function.

It seems to me that we can say-perhaps somewhat hastily or schematically, but we would still be essentially correct-that historical discourse, the discourse of historians, or this practice of recounting history, was for a long time what it had no doubt been in antiquity and what it still was in the Middle Ages: for a long time, it remained related to the rituals of power. It seems to me that we can understand the discourse of the historian to be a sort of ceremony, oral or written, that must in reality produce both a justification of power and a reinforcement of that power. It also seems to me that the traditional function of history, from the first Roman annalists' until the late Middle Ages, and perhaps the seventeenth century or even later, was to speak the right of power and to intensify the luster of power. It had two roles. The point of recounting history, the history of kings, the mighty sovereigns and their victories (and, if need be, their temporary defeats) was to use the continuity of the law to establish a juridical link between those men and power, because power and its workings were a demonstration of the continuity of the law itself. History's other role was to use the almost unbearable intensity of the glory of power, its examples and its exploits, to fascinate men. The yoke of the law and the luster of glory appear to me to be the two things historical discourse strives to use to reinforce power. Like rituals, coronations, funerals, ceremonies, and legendary stories, history is an operator of power, an intensifier of power.

It seems to me that in the Middle Ages, the twofold function of historical discourse can be found on its three traditional axes. The genealogical axis spoke of the antiquity of kingdoms, brought great ancestors back to life, and rediscovered the heroes who founded empires and dynasties. The goal of this "genealogical" task was to ensure that the greatness of the events or men of the past could guarantee the value of the present, and transform its pettiness and mundanity into something equally heroic and equally legitimate. This genealogical axis of history-which we find mainly in forms of historical narratives

28 January 1976


about ancient kingdoms and great ancestors-must proclaim right to be something ancient; it must demonstrate the uninterrupted nature of the right of the sovereign and, therefore, the ineradicable force that he still possesses in the present day. Genealogy must, finally, also magnify the name of kings and princes with all the fame that went before them. Great kings found, then, the right of the sovereigns who succeed them, and they transmit their luster to the pettiness of their successors. We might call this the genealogical function of historical narratives.

Then there is the memorialization function, which we find not in stories of antiquity or in the resurrection of ancient kings and heroes, but in the annals and chronicles that were kept day by day and year by year throughout history itself. The annalists' practice of permanently recording history also serves to reinforce power. It too is a sort of ritual of power; it shows that what sovereigns and kings do is never pointless, futile, or petty, and never unworthy of being narrated. Everything they do can be, and deserves to be, spoken of and must be remembered in perpetuity, which means that the slightest deed or action of a king can and must be turned into a dazzling action and an exploit. At the same time, each of his decisions is inscribed in a sort of law for his subjects and an obligation for his successors. History, then, makes things memorable and, by making them memorable, inscribes deeds in a discourse that constrains and immobilizes minor actions in monuments that will turn them to stone and render them, so to speak, present forever. The third function of a history that intensifies power is to put examples into circulation. An example is a living law or a resuscitated law; it makes it possible to judge the present, and to make it submit to a stronger law. An example is, so to speak, glory made law; it is the law functioning in the luster of a name. It is because it associates the law and the luster with a name that an example has the force of-and functions as-a sort of punctual element that helps to reinforce power.

Binding and dazzling, subjugating, subjugating by imposing obligations and intensifying the luster of force: it seems to me that these are, very schematically, the two functions that we find in the various


forms of history, as practiced both in Roman civilization and in the societies of the Middle Ages. Now, these two functions correspond very closely to two aspects of power, as represented in religions, rituals, and Roman legends, and more generally in Indo-European legends. In the Indo-European system of representing power,' power always has two aspects or two faces, and they are perpetually conjugated. On the one hand, the juridical aspect: power uses obligations, oaths, commitments, and the law to bind; on the other, power has a magical function, role, and efficacy: power dazzles, and power petrilies. Jupiter, that eminently divine representative of power, the preeminent god of the first function and the first order in the Indo-European tripartite system, is both the god who binds and the god who hurls thunderbolts. Well, I believe that history, as it still functioned in the Middle Ages, with its antiquarian research, its dayto-day chronicles, and its circulating collections of examples, was still this same representation of power. It is not simply an image of power, but also a way of reinvigorating it. History is the discourse of power, the discourse of the obligations power uses to subjugate; it is also the dazzling discourse that power uses to fascinate, terrorize, and immobilize. In a word, power both binds and immobilizes, and is both the founder and guarantor of order; and history is precisely the discourse that intensifies and makes more efficacious the twin functions that guarantee order. In general terms, we can therefore say that until a very late stage in our society, history was the history of sovereignty, or a history that was deployed in the dimension and function of sovereignty. It is a "[upiterian" history. In that sense, there was still a direct continuity between the historical practice of the Middle Ages and the history of the Romans, history as recounted by the Romans, Livy's history! or that of the early annalists. This means that medieval historians never saw any difference, discontinuity, or break between Roman history and their own history, the history they were recounting. The continuity between the historical practice of the Middle Ages and that of Roman society runs deeper still to the extent that the historical narratives of the Romans, like those of the Middle Ages,



28Janua,_1' 1976


had a certain political function. History was a ritual that reinforced sovereignty.

Although this is no more than a crude sketch, it does, I think, provide a starting point for our attempt to reconstruct and characterize what is specific about the new form of discourse that appeared precisely at the very end of the Middle Ages or, really, in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Historical discourse was no longer the discourse of sovereignty, or even race, but a discourse about races, about a confrontation between races, about the race struggle that goes on within nations and within laws. To that extent it is, I think, a history that is the complete antithesis of the history of sovereignty, as constituted up to that time. This is the first non-Roman or anti-Roman history that the West had ever known. Why is it antiRoman and why is it a counter history, compared to the ritual of sovereignty I was telling you about a moment ago? For a number of reasons which we can easily identify. First, because in this history of races and of the permanent confrontation that goes on between races, beneath and through laws, we see the appearance, or rather the disappearance, of the implicit identification of people with monarch, and nation with sovereign, that the history of sovereignty-and sovereigns-had made apparent. Henceforth, in this new type of discourse and historical practice, sovereignty no longer binds everything together into a unity-which is of course the unity of the city, the nation, or the State. Sovereignty has a specific function. It does not bind; it enslaves. The postulate that the history of great men contains, a fortiori, the history of lesser men, or that the history of the strong is also the history of the weak, is replaced by a principle of heterogeneity: The history of some is not the history of others. It will be discovered, or at least asserted, that the history of the Saxons after their defeat at the Battle of Hastings is not the same as the history of the Normans who were the victors in that same battle. It will be learned that one man's victory is another man's defeat. The victory of the Franks and Clovis must also be read, conversely, as the defeat, enserfment, and enslavement of the Gallo- Romans. What looks like



right, law, or obligation from the point of view of power looks like the abuse of power, violence, and exaction when it is seen from the viewpoint of the new discourse, just as it does when we go over to the other side. After all, the fact that the land is in the possession of great feudal lords, and the fact that they are demanding all these taxes, will look to the defeated populations like acts of violence, confiscations, pillage, and war taxes that are being levied through violence. As a result, the great form of the general obligation, whose form was intensified by a history that magnified the glory of the sovereign, is undone, and the law comes to be seen as a Janus-faced reality: the triumph of some means the submission of others.

In that sense, the history that appears at this point, or the history of the race struggle, is a counterhistory. But I think it is also a counterhistory in a different and more important sense. Not only does this counter history break up the unity of the sovereign law that imposes obligations; it also breaks the continuity of glory, into the bargain. It reveals that the light-the famous dazzling effect of power-is not something that petrifies, solidifies, and immobilizes the entire social body, and thus keeps it in order; it is in fact a divisive light that illuminates one side of the social body but leaves the other side in shadow or casts it into the darkness. And the history or counter history that is born of the story of the race struggle will of course speak from the side that is in darkness, from within the shadows. It will be the discourse of those who have no glory, or of those who have lost it and who now find themselves, perhaps for a time-but probably for a long time-in darkness and silence. Which means that this discourse-unlike the uninterrupted ode in which power perpetuated itself, and grew stronger by displaying its antiquity and its genealogy-will be a disruptive speech, an appeal: "We do not have any continuity behind us; we do not have behind us the great and glorious genealogy in which the law and power flaunt themselves in their power and their glory. We came out of the shadows, we had no glory and we had no rights, and that is why we are beginning to speak and to tell of our history." This way of speaking related this type of discourse not so much to the search for the great uninterrupted juris-

2 8 } a n u a T_Y 1 9 76 71

prudence of a long-established power, as to a sort of prophetic rupture. This also means that this new discourse is similar to a certain number of epic, religious, or mythical forms which, rather than telling of the untarnished and uneclipsed glory of the sovereign, endeavor to formulate the misfortune of ancestors, exiles, and servitude. It will enumerate not so much victories, as the defeats to which we have to submit during our long wait for the promised land and the fulfillment of the old promises that will of course reestablish both the rights of old and the glory that has been lost.

With this new discourse of race struggle, we see the emergence of something that, basically, is much closer to the mythico-religious discourse of the Jews than to the politico-legendary history of the Romans. We are much closer to the Bible than to Livy, in a Hebraicbiblical form much more than in the form of the annalist who records, day by day, the history and the uninterrupted glory of power. I think that, in general terms, it must not be forgotten that, at least from the second half of the Middle Ages onward, the Bible was the great form for the articulation of religious, moral, and political protests against the power of kings and the despotism of the church. Like the reference to biblical texts itself, this form functioned, in most cases, as a protest, a critique, and an oppositional discourse. In the Middle Ages, Jerusalem was always a protest against all the Babylons that had come back to life; it was a protest against eternal Rome, against the Rome of the Caesars, against the Rome that shed the blood of the innocent in the circus. The Bible was the weapon of poverty and insurrection; it was the word that made men rise up against the law and against glory, against the unjust law of kings and the beautiful glory of the Church. To that extent, it is not surprising that we see, at the end of the Middle Ages. in the sixteenth century, in the period of the Reformation, and at the time of the English Revolution, the appearance of a form of history that is a direct challenge to the history of sovereignty and kings-to Roman history-and that we see a new history that is articulated around the great biblical form of prophecy and promise.

The historical discourse that appears at this point can therefore be


regarded as a counter history that challenges Roman history for this reason: in this new historical discourse, the function of memory acquires a whole new meaning. In Roman-style history, the function of memory was essentially to ensure that nothing was forgotten-or in other words, to preserve the law and perpetually to enhance the luster of power for so long as it endured. The new history that now emerges, in contrast, has to disinter something that has been hidden, and which has been hidden not only because it has been neglected, but because it has been carefully, deliberately, and wickedly misrepresented. Basically, what the new history is trying to show is that power, the mighty, the kings, and the laws have concealed the fact that they were born of the contingency and injustice of battles. After all, William the Conqueror did not want to be called "the conqueror," for he wartted to conceal the fact that the rights he exercised, or the violence he was inflicting on England, were the rights of conquest. He wanted to be seen as the legitimate dynastic successor and therefore hid the name of "conqueror," just as Clovis, after all, wandered around with a parchment in his hand to make people believe that he owed his royalty to the fact that he had been recognized as king by some Roman Caesar or other. These unjust and biased kings tried to make it look as though they were acting on behalf of all and in the name of all; they certainly wanted people to talk of their victories, but they did not want it to be known that their victories were someone else's defeats: "It was our defeat." The role of history will, then, be to show that laws deceive, that kings wear masks, that power creates illusions, and that historians tell lies. This will not, then, be a history of continuity, but a history of the deciphering, the detection of the secret, of the outwitting of the ruse, and of the reappropriation of a knowledge that has been distorted or buried. It will decipher a truth that has been sealed.

I think, finally, that this history of the race struggle that appears in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is a counter history in a different sense too. It is a counterhistory in a simpler or more elementary sense, but also in a stronger sense. The point is that, far from being a ritual inherent in the exercise, deployment, and reinforcement



2 S Jan u a r_y 7 9 76 1'3

of power, it is not only a critique of power, but also an attack on it and a demand. Power is unjust not because it has forfeited its noblest examples, but quite simply because it does not belong to us. In one sense, it can be said that this new history, like the old, is indeed an attempt to speak of a right that survives the vicissitudes of time. But its goal is not to establish the great, long jurisprudence of a power that has always retained its rights, or to demonstrate that power is where it is, and that it has always been where it is now. It is to demand rights that have not been recognized, or in other words, to declare war by declaring rights. Historical discourse of the Roman type pacifies society, justifies power, and founds the order-or the order of the three orders-that constitutes the social body. In contrast, the discourse I am telling you about, and which is deployed in the late sixteenth century, and which can be described as a biblical-style historical discourse, tears society apart and speaks of legitimate rights solely in order to declare war on laws.

I would like to sum all this up by advancing a sort of hypothesis.

Can we not say that until the end of the Middle Ages and perhaps beyond that point, we had a history-a historical discourse and practice-that was one of the great discursive rituals of sovereignty, of a sovereignty that both revealed and constituted itself through history as a unitary sovereignty that was legitimate, uninterrupted, and dazzling. Another history now begins to challenge it: the counter history of dark servitude and forfeiture. This is the counterhistory of prophecy and promise, the counterhistory of the secret knowledge that has to be rediscovered and deciphered. This, finally, is the counterhistory of the twin and simultaneous declaration of war and of rights. Romanstyle history was basically profoundly inscribed within the IndoEuropean system of representing power, and of power's workings; it was certainly bound up with the organization of the three orders, at whose pinnacle stood the order of sovereignty, and it therefore remained bound up with a certain domain of objects and certain types of figures-with legends about heroes and kings-because it was the discourse of a Janus-faced sovereignty that was at once magical and juridical. This history, based on a Roman model and Indo-European



functions, now finds itself being constrained by a biblical, almost Hebraic, history which, ever since the end of the Middle Ages, has been the discourse of rebellion and prophecy, of knowledge and of the call for the violent overthrow of the order of things. Unlike the historical discourse of Indo-European societies, this new discourse is no longer bound up with a ternary order, but with a binary perception and division of society and men; them and us, the unjust and the just, the masters and those who must obey them, the rich and the poor, the mighty and those who have to work in order to live, those who invade lands and those who tremble before them, the despots and the groaning people, the men of today's law and those of the homeland of the future.

It was in the middle of the Middle Ages that Petrarch asked what I see as a fairly astonishing or at least fundamental question. He asked:

"Is there nothing more to history than the praise of Rome?"? I think that in asking this question, he characterized in a word what had always been the actual practice of history, not only in Roman society, but also in the medieval society to which Petrarch himself belonged. A few centuries after Petrarch, the West saw the appearance or birth of a history that contained the very opposite of the praise of Rome. This was, by contrast, a history that sought to unmask Rome as a new Babylon, and which challenged Rome by demanding the lost rights of Jerusalem. A very different form of history and a historical discourse with a very different function had come into being. One might say that this history is the beginning of the end of Indo-European historicity, by which I mean the end of a certain Indo-European mode of talking about and perceiving history. Ultimately, we might say that antiquity ended with the birth of the great historical discourse on race war-and by antiquity I mean that awareness of being in continuity with antiquity that existed until the late Middle Ages. The Middle Ages was, obviously, unaware of being the Middle Ages. But it was also unaware, so to speak, that it was not, or was no longer, antiquity. Rome was still present, and functioned as a sort of permanent and contemporary historical presence in the Middle Ages. Rome was perceived as having been divided into a thousand channels

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2 8 ] a n u a r_Y 1 9 76 75

that flowed through Europe, but all these channels led, it was believed, back to Rome. It must not be forgotten that all the national (or prenational) political histories that were being written at this time always took as their starting point a certain Trojan myth. All the nations of Europe claimed to have been born of the fall of Troy. Being born of the fall of Troy meant that all the nations, all the States, and all the monarchies of Europe could claim to be Rome's sisters. The French monarchy, for instance, was supposed to be descended from Francus, and the English monarchy from a certain Brutus. All these great dynasties claimed the sons of Priam as their ancestors, and that guaranteed a link of genealogical kinship with ancient Rome. As late as the fifteenth century, a sultan of Constantinople could write to the doge of Venice: "But why should we wage war on one another, when we are brothers? It is well known that the Turks were born of, or emerged from, the burning of Troy, and that they too are descended from Priam." It was, he said, well known that the Turks were descended from Turcus, who, like Aeneas and Francus, was the son of Priam. Rome is, then, present within the historical consciousness of the Middle Ages, and there is no break between Rome and the countless kingdoms that we see appearing from the fifth and sixth centuries onward.

Now what the discourse of race struggle will reveal is precisely the kind of break that will relegate to a different world something that will come to look like an antiquity: we have a new awareness of a break that had not previously been recognized. The European consciousness begins to notice events that had previously been no more than minor incidents which had basically not damaged the great unity, the great strength, the great legitimacy, and the great, dazzling strength of Rome. It begins to notice the events which will [then] constitute Europe's real beginnings, its bloody beginnings. It began with conquest, with the Frankish invasion and the Norman invasion. Something that will be specifically individualized as "the Middle Ages" begins to appear [and it will be only in the early eighteenth century that historical consciousness will isolate this phenomenon and call it feudalism]. New characters appear: the Franks, the Gauls, and



the Celts; more general characters such as the peoples of the North and the peoples of the South also begin to appear; rulers and subordinates, the victors and the vanquished begin to appear. It is they who now enter the theater of historical discourse and who now constitute its primary reference. Europe becomes populated by memories and ancestors whose genealogy it had never before written. A very different historical consciousness emerges and is formulated through this discourse on the race struggle and the call for its revival. To that extent, we can identify the appearance of discourses on race war with a very different organization of time in Europe's consciousness, practice, and even its politics. Having established that, I would to make a certain number of comments.

First, I would like to stress the fact that it would be a mistake to regard this discourse on race struggle as belonging, rightfully and completely, to the oppressed, or to say that it was, at least originally, the discourse of the enslaved, the discourse of the people, or a history that was claimed and spoken by the people. It should in fact be immediately obvious that it is a discourse that has a great ability to circulate, a great aptitude for metamorphosis, or a sort of strategic polyvalence. It is true that we see it taking shape, at least initially perhaps, in the eschatological themes or myths that developed together with the popular movements of the second half of the Middle Ages. But it has to be noted that we very quickly-immediately-find it in the form of historical scholarship, popular fiction, and cosmobiological speculations. For a long time it was an oppositional discourse; circulating very quickly from one oppositional group to another, it was a critical instrument to be used in the struggle against a form of power, but it was shared bv different enemies or different forms of opposition to that power. We see it being used, in various forms, bv radical English thought at the time of the seventeenthcentury revolution. A few years later, we see the French aristocratic reaction using it against the power of Louis XIV, and it has scarcely been transformed at all. In the early nineteenth century, it was obviouslv bound up with the postrevolutionary project of at last writing a history whose real subject is the people.' But a few years later, we




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